Happy Award Honors Extraordinary Contributions to Service-Learning 

February 17, 2020.
BATON ROUGE, LA --The Center for Community Engagement, Learning, and Leadership (CCELL) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2019-2020 Happy Awards.

The award ceremony will be held Thursday, February 20, 2020, at Barnes & Noble at LSU in the 2nd-floor event room, located at 2 Union Square, from 5-7 p.m.


This year's honorees represent a collective effort to impact our campus and greater Baton Rouge community through service and service-learning. PIctured above (from left to right) are: Laurie Drummond and her canine co-teacher Finn, Stephanie Morris on behalf of St. James Place, Nick Totaro and his son Nathan, Harli Lockhart, Laurie Font, Holly Annison, Caila Palmer, and Mae Mangaoil. Not pictured are Troy Robertson and Patrick Newcomb.
Photo Credit: Sadie O'Keefe

The honorees are:

Both Associate Registrar Holly Annison & Assistant Registrar for Courses and Curricula Patrick Newcomb have assisted CCELL in its designation efforts of current and past service-learning courses and sections, which totals more than 2500 students per academic year. Also, they have coded individual students who participate in S-L optional classes or choose the contract-option opportunity--adding 60 students every semester to their substantial workload. This LSU Registrar pair have demonstrated patience and flexibility during this process, which frequently disrupts and slows their workflow.

University College Assistant Director of Information Technology (IT) and Records Troy Robertson has supported CCELL as an unofficial professional staff member for more than ten years. He was also instrumental in keeping CCELL's first partnership database (built in Ruby on Rails) working long after it reached the end of its useful life. As a volunteer, he has quickly fixed, updated, and installed all of our computer hardware and software issues whenever needed, with a smile.

English Instructor Laurie Drummond has taught at LSU since 2013 and has passionately supported CCELL since her participation in its Faculty Scholar Program in 2015-16. Since Spring 2016, Laurie has offered sections of English 2000: Animal Welfare and the Natural World, partnering with fellow Happy Award winner Laurie Font and Companion Animal Alliance (CAA). Her students hone their writing skills while creating flyers and brochures; short bios for adoptable CAA dogs and cats; videos for CAA to use on social media and their website; profiles on CAA staff, volunteers, and foster animal parents for publicity and in-house use. Drummond, her students, and CAA's combined efforts have contributed to the reduction of Baton Rouge's euthanasia rate for shelter animals in the city. Over almost four years, her ENGL 2000 students have served approximately 2400 hours alongside CAA staff, volunteers, and animal friends.

As the former volunteer coordinator for Companion Animal Alliance (CAA), EBRP's open-take municipal animal shelter, Laurie Font partnered with fellow Happy Award winner Laurie Drummond and her ENGL 2000: Animal Welfare and the Natural World students. Font not only tracked and compiled students' hours into monthly stats (which totals d almost 2,400 hours); but, also scheduled weekend tours and Sunday Orientation to accommodate their busy schedules. Since 2016, Laurie's dedication and diligence to this partnership have sparked LSU students to not only volunteer at CAA, but to foster countless animals. Although Font resigned from her post in August 2019, she has remained with the class, albeit in a smaller capacity--she still logs and compiles the students' hours every month.

Graduating senior Harli Lockhart, dual certification in elementary and special education major, has served school-aged children in and around Baton Rouge as part of her academic curriculum and personal volunteerism effort. She has taken courses such as EDCI 2400: Education and Diverse Populations, MATH 2203: Measurement: Proportional and Algebraic Reasoning, and EDCI 3127: Curriculum Disciplines: Social Studies, and each has enhanced her understanding of being an engaged citizen and educator. As a College of Human Sciences and Education (CHSE) Ambassador, Harli has completed 60 hours of approved service with community partners such as Knock Knock Children's Museum, Buchanan Elementary, and LSU Residential Life.

PhotoThe theme for this year's Happy Award Ceremony was Mardi Gras, which preceded the state-wide celebration. 

Photo Credit: Sadie O'Keefe

Chemical engineering senior Mae Anne Mangaoil has held numerous leadership roles throughout her academic tenure at the University, including Food Drive Chair of the MLK Planning Committee, Environmental Focus Chair of VLSU, Volunteer Director for Kitchens on the Geaux, Director of Volunteer Recruitment of Geaux Big BR, and Team Leader of Community Bound. Her service-learning coursework in BE 1251: Introduction to Engineering Methods, ENGL 2027: Poetry, and EMS 1011: Environment and Technology: Perspective on Environmental Problems demonstrates her willingness to further develop as a leader in academics and community engagement. Mae Anne has completed 96.5 hours of approved service through LSU Campus Life programs such as the Food Pantry, VLSU, and Community Bound.

Through courses such as WGS 2500: Introduction to Women's & Gender and PSYC 4005: Psychology Capstone, graduating senior Caila Palmer has assisted community programs that aim to stimulate health, education, and youth development in the East Baton Rouge area. These programs include SB Wellness, Front Yard Bikes, Baton Rouge Youth Coalition (BRYC), and Knock Knock Children's Museum. She has tutored local children, conducted health fair biometrics screenings, participated in various community events/fundraisers, and supported fatherhood programs. Caila has also completed 57.5 hours of approved service with community partners such as BRYC, Domestic LSU Service Breaks, and Front Yard Bikes.

Nicholas "Nick" Totaro, instructor and undergraduate program coordinator in the Biological and Agricultural Engineering department, has co-taught BE 1251: Introduction to Engineering Methods since Fall 2017. In this one-of-a-kind course, first-year students learn the fundamentals of engineering design and graphical expressions of engineering design using computer-aided drafting in AutoCAD and Autodesk Inventor programs. The course has partnered with Volunteers in Public Schools (VIPS), where LSU students designed math education tools for Highland Elementary 1st to 3rd graders. These 3D-printed math tools vary in design, but all share the same function: to help kids learn math through visual, kinesthetic, and auditory learning.

As part of CCELL's contract option initiative, LSU faculty and students collaborate on the best way to integrate service-learning principles into standard courses. Together, they identify how service will address the learning objectives and select a community site where the student will volunteer a minimum of 10 hours over the semester.

Lionel Favret, an ECP candidate and graduating senior in biology, chose to contract-option SOCL 4531: Sociology of Aging and selected St. James Place as his community partner. Opened in 1983, St. James Place was the first retirement community in the state of Louisiana. They offer a full continuum of care that includes Independent Living, Assisted Living, Nursing Care, and two distinct levels of Memory Care. While there, Lionel participated in the BINGO! games with residents and visited with a resident who recounted stories from World War II. From these interactions, he connected how lifestyles and environment can drastically shape how lives evolve as people age. The retirement home allowed him to observe the varying psychological and physiological conditions brought on by aging, and the class gave him an understanding of the resulting factors.

Collectively, these community partners, students, and faculty represent the highest ideals of reciprocal service-learning partnerships.

Happy Awards are given annually to ten individuals to recognize excellence in service-learning. CCELL initiated The "Happy" to commemorate former director Jan Shoemaker's ten years of distinguished service, commitment to educate and provide service for the common good. Happy Award recipients receive a commemorative lapel pin, which was designed by service-learning students based on input from Shoemaker's friends and colleagues. Award recipients can be faculty, students, and community partners. The nomination period occurs every fall.