Jill Washburn, community service coordinator, 406.238.7394,
RMC Media Team, 406.657.1105,

Freshmen Service Day: students jump-start community engagement

BILLINGS, August 19, 2014 – Saturday, August 23, hundreds of Rocky Mountain College freshmen will serve at local community agencies to start their college career off right.

Teams will:

  • Support the staff and volunteers of the Habitat for Humanity ReStore by cleaning, organizing, and merchandising donated items;
  • Help plant a medicinal natives garden at Audubon Conservation Education Center;
  • Support teachers and staff to prep after-school classrooms at Friendship House;
  • Help to build and repair the trails at Phipps Park and High Sierra Park for Billings Parks, Recreation & Public Lands;
  • Support the staff with cleaning and organizing client space at the Center for Children and Families;
  • Assist with grounds work at Moss Mansion; and
  • Support the staff and clients at Family Service, Inc., by sorting donations and helping with yard work.

The freshmen work 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Saturday morning before their classes start on Monday. In its third year at RMC, Freshmen Service Day is part of the Campus Compass program at the College, which groups students together in several classes during fall semester. Rocky Mountain College’s mission statement respects shared responsibility, stewardship, and transformational learning: ethics that all grow from community involvement.

Freshmen Service Day is a great way to engage students in service, support the work of community agencies, and expose students to potential career paths in the non-profit sector, said Jill Washburn, community service coordinator.

Students will have a further opportunity to serve in the afternoon. RMC has partnered with ZooMontana to assist with the first annual “Red, White and Zoo” event created by RMC alumnus Zach Bonhoff. On Sunday, September 7, in conjunction with the city of Billings, ZooMontana plans to paint a 10,000 square foot flag to memorialize the events of September 11 and honor those affected by the 9/11 tragedy. Saturday afternoon, RMC students will tie-dye red, white, and blue t-shirts for the volunteers of the impending “Red, White and Zoo” event.

Washburn has practiced and preached community involvement and service learning at RMC since she graduated from the college in 2011. Her own commitment to service began after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 with Habitat for Humanity disaster response and continues through statewide volunteering with the American Red Cross of Montana.

Her partnerships this fall create opportunities for students for mutual volunteering with the Retired Senior and Volunteer Program, Joining Community Forces to support military families, Billings Public Schools, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the Billings Public Library, the Girl Scouts of Montana and Wyoming, and United Way of Yellowstone County, among other agencies.

Washburn drives home that volunteering does not stop at a particular age. She notes that along with academic prowess and social growth, an RMC education supports practice of lifelong real-world skills of working with and helping others through community involvement.