Aidan Brook Luther College students ‘23 and Allison Hasenmiller ‘23 work with The Humane Society of Northeast Iowa (HSNEI) to identify factors and solutions related to the retention and recruitment of volunteer staff.
Brook, a management major, and Hasenmiller, a social work major, are using their unique knowledge and skills to assist HSNEI with the 2022 Luther Social Impact Research Fellowship (SIRF).
“I was primarily interested in this project because I wanted to work with a volunteer-dependent nonprofit working to solve real-world problems,” Brook said. “The Humane Society of Northeast Iowa‘the mission of helping and caring for abused and neglected animals was very compelling and became the reason I would dedicate myself to this project.
stream and Hasenmiller worked with Ries Magnuson, Director Director of HSNEI, to identify their needs in order to pursue their mission responsibly given their lack of volunteers and funding.
“Volunteers are so important to achieving the quality of care and enrichment that animals need,” Magnuson said. “Our staff members take care of basic needs like feeding and cleaning, but don’t have enough time to give essential socialization time to the hundreds of animals that are with us each year. It is so important to provide adequate social and mental stimulation to each individual so that their emotional and mental well-being is maintained in addition to their physical well-being. We are unable to do this without our dedicated volunteers who come in to brush the cats, play fetch with the dogs and sit with the animals providing the individual attention each animal needs.
According to Hasenmiller, over the eight-week period of their research, they concluded that the organization’s operational needs exceeded its current human capacity. “It was clear that the staff were overwhelmed, so we had to find a solution to that.”
“Allison and Aidan made the whole process very accessible. We had weekly collaborative conversations to identify areas for improvement or needs, then they did the groundwork and brought back viable, proven suggestions and resources. to discuss the following week. It was exciting to watch the project go from ideas to solutions in just eight weeks,” said Magnusson.
The group came up with more ideas than it was possible to implement in the time available. So they focused on the fruits at hand: a workplace study program and internship opportunities at Luther.
“Through a work-study program with Luther College, we thought we could create some relief in terms of staff workload, as Luther students would be integrated. Also, an internship program created with similar intentions would be a big help,” Hasenmiller said.
About the Social Impact Research Fellowship
The SIRF was created in 2018 by educational advisers Britt Rhodes, Brittany Cord and Alexandra White. The SIRF program pairs a social work student and a business/accounting student in a partnership with a community organization to help solve a problem or meet a need through an eight-week summer project. The SIRF program offers Luther students the opportunity to actively learn through direct community engagement and to use their skills to provide resources and support to help advance the mission of their community partner organization.
As a management major, it was a valuable learning experience as I got to work on real problems. It allowed me to hone my critical thinking skills and my ability to assess the practicality of my approach to problem solving.
About Luther College
Luther College is home to approximately 1,800 undergraduate students who explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our academic programs, experiential approach to learning, and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully, and lead courageously for a life of impact. Learn more about luther.edu.