Upcoming fairs encourage students to get involved

Emma Gray


Parkland will host two expositions at the end of the month to encourage students to become more involved with their college and the community this semester and beyond.

The first fair is the Student Organizations and Services Fair, which will be in the Flag Lounge in the X-wing Tuesday, Jan. 30, and Wednesday Jan. 31, from 11 a.m.–1 p.m. each day.

This event is organized by Student Life and is meant to give student information on services and resources available to them as well as different clubs at the college.

“Parkland has many ways to support students as well as opportunities for students to develop and we want to lower the barriers for students to find those resources and opportunities,” said Joshua Clark, the activities program manager at Parkland.

The fair is still in the process of signing up organizations to attend so a list of those attending is not yet available, though, regardless, students should expect to learn more about many of the college’s active student organizations. 

“Hopefully all active organizations will attend the event,” Clark said. “We want all the organizations to attend so that new students and continuing student have the chance to explore their interests, make new friends, and develop as leaders.”

The time required to join any of the organizations or service opportunities varies from just a couple of hours to hours a week as students have the ability to just attend a special event, weekly or monthly meetings, or get involved with leadership in a student group.
The fair is meant to be a fun opportunity for student to get to know the college better.

“Students should be prepared for food, prizes and a fun atmosphere,” Clark said. “They should also be prepared to share their contact information and be open to meeting new people and opportunities.”

Those who are unable to attend the Student Organizations and Services Fair but would like more information can contact Clark by emailing him at jclark@parkland.edu or by stopping by Student Life in the U-wing.

The second event is the Volunteer Fair, which will be in the X-wing’s Gallery Lounge—across from the Giertz Gallery—from 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 31. This fair is organized by AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America for the service and learning program at Parkland and is meant to help students find and get in contact with different volunteer organizations and opportunities around town.

As of Jan. 17, there were 18 organizations signed up to attend the Volunteer Fair, though this number may change as the date of the event approaches, according to Gabriella Fisher, Parkland’s AmeriCorps VISTA coordinator and volunteer coordinator.

At the fair, students will have the opportunity to learn more about what each organization does and how they can join.

“Students can expect to receive information about the work and events being done and planned by the organizations present,” Fisher said. “Students will most likely be asked to give their name and email addresses to organizations that they are interested in working with.”

Among the organizations attending the event is the Champaign Unit 4 School District. According to their website, volunteers are able to go into all of the Unit 4 schools, including early childhood through high school. To be able to volunteer inside of the schools, students are required to fill out an authorization form allowing the school district to perform a background investigation.

Another organization that is signed up for the fair is C-U Special Recreation, a cooperative of the Urbana and Champaign park districts that provides programs and services to those with disabilities. According to their website, they are looking for people to help with special events, sports practices and after school programs.

Some of the other organizations planning to attend include the Champaign Country Regional Planning Commission, Habitat for Humanity, and the Urbana Park District.

Because there will be a variety of organizations attending the fair, students will be able to find opportunities for both short-term and long-term volunteer projects.

“Some [organizations] look for volunteers for specific events, others look for volunteers willing to make more of a commitment, and some look for both,” Fisher said. “If you are interested in volunteering…speak with the representatives of the organizations. They will be able to tell you what sort of time commitment their organization asks for and can answer any other questions about their organization.”

The Volunteer Fair is also designed as a way for students to learn more about Champaign County and help work on issues facing its community. 

“[The fair] is a great way to network, meet local nonprofit organizations, and become involved in local volunteer opportunities,” Fisher said. “It also gives students the opportunity to become more aware of some of the problems facing the C-U community, and the work being done to address them.”

Students unable to attend the Volunteer Fair can find more information about volunteering and the AmeriCorps VISTA program at Parkland by contacting Fisher by emailing gfisher@parkland.edu or stopping by her office in C134. Students can also find information on their my.parkland.edu accounts under “Student Services,” under the “Academics” tab.

Information on Unit 4 schools can be found by visiting champaignschools.org and searching “volunteer” in the search bar at the top of the page. For more information on C-U Special Recreation, visit cuspecialrecreation.com.