Service Learning

Living and working together, service learning students from Iowa State University and Makerere University learn what it takes to be change agents in the developing world. With the center’s guidance, students work on major development projects in agriculture, agroforestry, irrigation, sanitation and other areas, learn meaningful life lessons and acquire intercultural knowledge and competence. The program provides both university students and pupils from the primary school opportunities to learn through hands-on experiences.  Experiential learning is the main approach of service learning adopted by the project, with participants "learning by doing" at the same time providing a service to the community through the schools with both in equal balance (service + learning).

Students interested in participating in the service learning program can visit the CALS Study Abroad website or stop by their office in 0018 Curtiss Hall. 

CSRL Impacts in 2017:

  • Nearly 30 service learners from Makerere University and ISU taught primary school and worked in binational teams to further development projects in:
    • Agroforestry and irrigation
    • Beekeeping
    • Composting and soil fertility
    • Grain storage
    • Health and sanitation
    • Poultry management
    • School lunch and nutrition
  • Eight GRS students completed their Kamuli internships on these issues and projects:
    • Clean drinking water sources
    • Eye examinations
    • Food security
    • Forestry
    • Health practices and food utilization
    • Grain storage

Jace Hadish's Story:

When Jace Hadish heard about ISU’s service learning program in Uganda, he was drawn to the multifaceted nature of the program. “Being able to learn about a different culture, about development and about myself within a different culture, was quite appealing,” he says. “I knew it was an experience through which I could grow a lot, and that made it an experience I wanted to have.”

Hadish’s service-learning assignments in Kamuli included working in the school gardens and teaching an agriculture class at the Nakanyonyi Primary School for three days a week. He also was part of a bi-national team with Makerere University students that worked to expand the poultry project at Nakanyonyi. For the latter project, the student team prepared the newly constructed addition to the poultry building to house 102 chicks that would cycle in as the new brooder stock. They also vaccinated chickens, cleaned poultry houses, collected eggs and interacted with pupils involved with the school’s poultry club.

The school garden work included nursery bed construction, transplanting collard greens and eggplants, building sweet potato mounds and harvesting grain amaranth. And weeding. Lots of weeding. “It seemed endless,” Hadish says, “but it was quite rewarding when a section of weeding was completed for the day. Using an African garden hoe for just about every task, it gave us a real sense of what agriculture is like for most people in Uganda.”

As is true for most service learners, it was the people Hadish met who’ve had the largest and most lasting impact. “This program really gave me an appreciation for the human connection,” he says. “Even though there are many cultural differences and sometimes even language barriers, I was able to form deep bonds with many Ugandan people. I have been touched by the relationships that I have made, inspired by the difference I know that this program makes by being there for and with the people year-round, and humbled to learn from and with people who have a completely different life story.”

TO MAKE A GIFT to the Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods, please click here to go directly to the ISU Foundation, or contact Ray Klein at (515) 294-3303 or