Renovations to Northup Hall will establish a space for the Linfield Center of Northwest
Studies, an internship and community service center.
Jeff Peterson, associate professor of sociology and anthropology, organized the center. He said he was trying to connect Linfield students to the Northwest.
“We’re looking to have a more focused approach to having student engagement in the region,” he said.
Peterson also said that the program would focus on internships, collaboration with faculty and service learning.
Service learning combines classroom education with work in the field to improve the
“I can talk in my sociology class about poverty in the United States and then have students work with the homeless,” Peterson said.
The center is not yet fully funded. Peterson, who leads a faculty committee at the behest of President Thomas Hellie, has been attempting to bring his project to fruition for a little more than three years.
Funding for the center comes from grants, and Peterson said he hopes to get an endowment for his program. Organizations such as the Keck Foundation in Los Angeles have given small and medium-size grants to the program, Peterson said. He also said that most of the center’s first year was spent on grant-writing.
A Linfield press release said the Keck Foundation gave the center $50,000.
First Federal, a bank in McMinnville, is one of several local organizations involved with the center, Peterson said. The bank runs the First Federal Community Internship Program with the fledgling center.
“The program seeks to create paid internship opportunities for Linfield students to work at a
nonprofit,” First Federal Community Relations Coordinator Erin Stephenson said.
Nonprofit organizations solicit help from First Federal, which then finds willing Linfield students t volunteer, Peterson said. Sophomore Evan Wingren is one such student.
Wingren said the collaboration between First Federal and the center helped him get an internship with the McMinnville Chamber of Commerce, which he chose because it helped him apply his economics and finance classroom experiences.
Stephenson said that there are five programs operating during Spring Semester.
The center has sponsored a total of 23 internships during the past two years, he said.
Peterson said he began working on the program after several years of contemplation.
“I went to a grant-writing seminar in Portland, and I had the idea at the conference,” he said. “I wrote a couple of things up and
talked with faculty and administrators about focusing some of the things we’ve got.”
Peterson said the program’s next step is to establish an advisory board for projects. He said it will contain faculty and students, and will review faculty and student collaborative projects.
“It’s where a faculty member has an area of expertise, and they involve their students in their research with them,” he said. “They basically learn how to do research and get out into the field.”
Other colleges have similar project programs, but Peterson said that Linfield’s will be unique in its focus.
“We’re taking advantage of Linfield’s position in the Willamette Valley and connect students in all of these ways,” he said. “We help students understand the connections between the classroom and the real world. The regional connection is a natural one.”
Peterson said he has done much of the groundwork with the local community and is heartened by the response of Yamhill-area organizations.
“Rather than focusing on what we can do ourselves, these partnerships show what we can do together for the community,” he said.
News editor Joshua Ensler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org