Confession: I bribed my team with puppies.
It started with an email from the Staff Advisory Council reminding members that we have 16 hours of community engagement time and summer is a great time to use some of those hours. It’s also a great time to get together with my larger NAU Communications team, including NAU-TV and NAU Social, who I don’t get to see as much, and do a little team bonding over a little manual labor.
I emailed my team with my first confession—I hadn’t used any of my community engagement hours yet!—and asked if anyone was interested in a group project. A lot of people were interested, I looked around for opportunities (the Center for Service and Volunteerism has a list of organizations, local and statewide, that need volunteers) and we landed on High Country Humane Society. We’re all dog- and cat-lovers and, even though we didn’t have the training to actually help with the animals, it was still a great opportunity for our team.
Plus, they said we could play with puppies. Done. We’re in. We might leave with a puppy for a team mascot, name it Puplic Relations and let it provide news pupdates in The NAU Review. Let’s do this.
Because we were such a large group, they had a special project that needed lots of hands. We proceeded to spend a morning, during the hottest stretch of days Flagstaff has seen in a while, scrubbing out dog kennels. It was hot, sweaty, grungy, hard work, and y’all, we loved it. It’s so gratifying to see something get clean through your work, and knowing that the adorably adoptable dogs would be shown off in style is such good motivation. Plus, the shelter employees were SO grateful for our work. The number of times we heard “we couldn’t have done this without you!” made us feel special. Our team even got a shoutout on their social media page!
So what I’m saying is, you too can get a little dirty and give back to the community and use your community engagement hours to do it. Here’s how to use community engagements hours and make it fun:
1. Teamwork makes the dream work.
It’s just easier, and more fun, to do community service as a group. All it takes is an email to your colleagues to get the ball rolling. From there, schedule a service project at a local nonprofit, throw on your favorite NAU T-shirt and enjoy the opportunity to spend time with coworkers outside the office.
2. Find a good volunteer opportunity.
The CSV volunteer list is a great resource because they’re all approved for community engagement hour use. Opportunities include preparing food, reading to kids, tutoring, prepping sandbags and more. Whatever your team’s interests, there’s a good volunteer opportunity for it. When you identify it, work with the contact on the webpage. Depending on the size of your group or specific skills in your group, there may be different opportunities for harder-to-fill projects as well.
3. Log your hours in the system.
When you input your hours on your time sheet, remember to add where you volunteered and what service you did in the comment section.
4. Send us a picture!
We want to see how your teams are using community engagement. When you’re out, snap a pic and send it, along with where you volunteered, to NAUcomm@nau.edu. At the end of the year, we’ll share a selection of photos of our Lumberjacks out serving the community.
Heidi Toth | NAU Communications
(928) 523-8737 | firstname.lastname@example.org