One of my favorite things about CMU is the plethora of opportunities that have been available to me because of attending school here. One of those opportunities has been to sign a second major at CMU during my third year here. In addition to my original degree in Recreation and Event Management, I am also pursuing a degree in Public and Nonprofit Administration. My specific passion within this degree is the nonprofit aspect, as I wish to work for a nonprofit someday. Along with that major, there is also the opportunity to be involved with the Nonprofit Leadership Student Alliance, or NLSA. NLSA is an RSO on campus affiliated with the Department of Political Science and Public Administration.
The perk of being involved with this academic organization is receiving the certified Nonprofit Professional credential, or CNP. For one to receive their CNP, there is a list of criteria that must be competed. Criteria involve items that are pertinent to working in the nonprofit sector, like fundraising experience, leadership experience, and service experience. The CNP also required that individuals attend the Alliance Management Institute, or AMI, each January.
Another perk of being involved in the organization is that we get to learn from actual nonprofit professionals that come to present on subjects such as board governance, grant writing, and fundraising. We have had presentations from local nonprofits such as WCMU, Girls on the Run, Art Reach of Mid Michigan, and United Way of Gratiot and Isabella counties. The amount of lessons and information I have learned form these speakers has been very helpful in my decision for eating to be involved in the nonprofit sector. Once I graduate in December of 2018, I will have eared my CNP, and officially will be, “Allison Kistler, CNP.” This is all thanks to NLSA and the faculty Advisor, Emma Powell.
As apart of the Leader advancement Protocol, we are required to be at least 2 registered student organizations (RSO) and hold a leadership position in one. One of my favorite organizations that I have ever been a part of is Campus Grow. Campus Grow is an RSO affiliated with the Biology Department, that focuses on food security, growing plants and urban farming. Working at the CMU Greenhouse has taught me so much about plants, so I have learned to love bring in this organization. Not only have I been in the organization for two years, but I have been the President/Garden Coordinator for 1 year.
Being the President and Garden Coordinator has been one of the most rewarding and most challenging experiences of my collegiate career. I have loved being able to help teach individuals about plants and gardening. I have also loved being able to plan events and coordinate the community garden and see it come to fruition.
While I have loved being the President and Garden Coordinator of Campus Grow, there have definitely been some challenges that have accompanied it. This was my first time as a president of an organization, so it was a bit of a learning curve at first. Along with that, when I became president/ garden coordinator in May 2017, the previous president left me with only the email passwords, and the key to the shed at the community garden, and there was on one else on e-baord at the time. So, I was not left with much guidance, which is difficult in any leadership position. Other than the faculty advisor, there was no one else responsible for Campus Grow other than me. This definitely taught me how to build an organization from the bottom.
My first community gardening season was successful with over 50 gardeners, and plenty of volunteer help. We made it through an interesting Michigan farming season, especially with the imfafous flood of 2017 that decimated much of our garden. When the school year started, there was enough interest to fill the entire e-board, and we had weekly general meetings educating students about food security, planting, and urban farming. While there has certainly been challenges, I would want want to trade my leadership role and experience gained at Campus Grow with anything. I have learned that not everything leadership position is equal. This experience has taught me many lessons that I will find useful, especially starting a career in the nonprofit sector.
The CMU School of Music (aka. my second home) is what I chose to do for my second RSO Reflection because since I have three jobs, and am taking a full course load, I don’t necessarily have the time to be in 2 RSO’s. This RSO I have been working for the School of Music for four semesters now, and have loved most every bit of it. At the event staff, we organize and execute all of the musical events that happen at the SOM. Those include famous guests artists, student recitals, big and small band/choir ensembles, and faculty recitals. We also host state-wide musical events for high school bands and choirs. This jobs has taught me so much about organizing events and managing a staff, both of which will be crucial parts of my future career. This year, I was promoted to be an Event Staff Coordinator, which is basically the position of a student manager. With this, I have more time interacting directly with my other staff members, training and facilitating events with them. I have also had much more extensive training on technical things, such as hinging lights from catwalks.
The main thing I love about this job is that the ones of community is wonderful. As a staff, we all grow very close to each other since we work and have a very supporting boss who challenges us. Some of my best friend have come out of my time working for the Event Staff. I also like that for my job, I get to interact with the music faculty, students and the different guest artist. I have made so many connections with individuals who could be great contacts in the future through this job. I love seeing different events successfully come together with all of the planning my staff and I put into it. I can thank the Event Staff for training me to be able to train staff members and be more comfortable with managing small groups of people in professional settings.
This year, I am on the Grad Ball Lead team. Up to this point, our team has had many meetings in preparation for this event, which is actually coming up in just two short weeks. Organizing events is something that I love to do, so this was a great LEAD Team for me to be on. I am very excited to see how it will all turn out and celebrate the graduates of LAS 2012 Class!
As one of my RSO involvements for this year, I have taken the liberty of using my on campus job to count towards one of these. ( I have chosen to do this because between both my on campus and off campus job, my 19-credit hour work load, and volunteering at St. John’s, there isn’t much time for anything else!) Working at the CMU Music Building as a member of the event staff has been one of the most positive experiences in my career at CMU thus far. This job has taught me so much about putting together events, keeping composure at the face of chaos and learning to put others before myself. Not only do I get all of this professional development experience at the Event Staff, but the sense of community among not only the staff, but the entire music building is incredible. I can’t walk through the music building without stopping to talk to someone for a few minutes, or greeting one of the faculty, and I’m not even a music major! Being a member of the event staff here on campus is one of the places that I feel I truly belong. This semester, I am also training to be an Event Staff Coordinator (Student Manager) for the next school year. I am extremely excited to continue to learn about the work that I do, and to further build on this very welcoming and unique community that the music building offers.
Members of the staff at our annual “Event Staff Olympics”
The team after a failed attempt at a human pyramid.
The team I was on this year was the Social Lead team. We organize social events for all of LAS. This year, we planned LAS on ICE, which was an ice skating trip to the local arena, and LAS in the D, which is a trip to a Tiger’s game that will take place in June. The team was wonderful, and the meetings were never too long or boring. For every event that we planned, each person had a specific job to do, and without him or her, the event wouldn’t get planned. For LAS on ICE, I was placed with the social media position for my cohort, so I had to create and event and advertise on our Facebook page. Other jobs were making posters, emailing our advisor or calling the Ice arena.
Having these responsibilities really taught me something about leadership that I already knew, but it kind of solidified it. A leader isn’t necessarily the person in charge, but it can also be the person who works behind the scenes to make the magic happen. Each person in my Lead Team held some kind of leadership throughout the year because we all had some type of responsibility to make sure each event happened.
Next year, depending on what lead team I’m on, I will try my best to convey that message to my team that you don’t have to be the person in charge to be a leader. I also hope to have as good of a lead team as I did this year. If I’m on the Social Lead Team again, I hope to do a few more smaller events, like a Christmas dinner or a Halloween gathering within cohorts. This way, that would bring in even more leadership roles to the members of the team within cohorts.
We packed up for the weekend after weeks of preparation, got on a big bus and went on
our way to Detroit for the weekend. The weekend would be packed full of service, learning, and FUN. My Leader Advancement Scholar Cohort and I were so excited to go to Detroit and serve the community. When we got to Detroit, our first stop was at Jalen Rose Leadership Academy (JRLA). There, we facilitated different leadership activities and taught the students how to facilitate in the future. Next, we toured the Lowe Campbell Ewald building and the Ford Field Stadium. After that, we went to a local pizza joint and ate some delicious food. Then, we went to the Detroit Institute of Arts to browse artwork for a while, and our final stop for the night was the CMU office located in downtown Detroit. So, yes, that means all 50 of us had to sleep there, on the floor of the office. But hey, at least it was carpeted! We got up early the next morning and drove a few minutes to the Motor City Bight Busters headquarters. After we got a brief history of the group, we helped them out by spreading large piles of mulch around a field, in preparation of what would later be a farming field. After that, we were on our way home.
The most eye opening part of the trip for me was the huge dynamic change in the different parts of Detroit we were in. When we were in JRLA, the power went out twice. This is an actual school we were in, and in my experience, unless there was a big storm or catastrophe, the power never went out in my school. This was surprising to me and the rest of my cohort, not only because it happened while we were there, but that the students said the power goes out at least once a week at their school. That blew my mind! A school so tight on money that supplying the whole school with electricity was so hard. Later on during the day, though, we visited Lowe Campbell Ewald, and boy was that a dynamic change from JRLA. The building was just elaborately and magnificently designed. I don’t remember the exact digits, but the amount of money that went into building and supplying that building with electricity everyday was absolutely astounding. Thousands a day. Also, the amount of money that went into building Ford Field and the amount that people are willing to spend to get a good seat for a game was also mind blowing.
Honestly, this really irked and upset me. The people in Lowe Campbell Ewald are just rolling in money, spending nearly as much as my college tuition a day on running their building, and the students of JLRA (not even 20 miles apart) can’t go a week of school
without a power outage. There is absolutely no doubt that there is something wrong in this picture. I guess this part just really changed my perspective on a lot of things. As a society, we are so materialistic and put so much focus on monetary value that we are just oblivious to the fact that some people in the same county as us are struggling for something guaranteed for us: electricity.
The founder of the Motor City Blight Busters really stood out to me as a leader during this trip. He told us the story of how he was trying to raise his family in a bad part of Detroit. One day, he got sick of it and did something. He started making the neighborhood a better, friendlier place. He didn’t stop there though, because now, the Blight Busters reach out to many areas of Detroit with the help of a wide variety of volunteers. The organization strives to turn Detroit around, and make living environments available more suitable. I think this is a perfect example of Servant Leadership. The Blight Busters founder really works hard for his organization and puts in the work necessary to get jobs done, all while organizing volunteers to come and help out.
After this trip, my outlook on Detroit has changed a little. I guess now, I am just more aware of how things actually are in Detroit, but I do know that there is hope, and things are definitely getting better in that City. With the Motor City Blight Busters creating farmland and cleaning up houses, and the promising students of JRLA learning about leadership and thinking about college, I know that Detroit is already improving. Soon, I hope that Detroit wont be associated with the word “ghetto” and that people will think highly of the city.
The most important thing this trip has taught me is really how important service work is. Like I said, I have done volunteer work before, but my experience was limited to making blankets, or packing lunches for students. I have never really gone out of my own city to do any type of service work, and I am so glad that I got this experience. Even though what we did (shoveling piles of mulch) may have seemed like a small effort, I don’t think many of my cohort members realized what a big difference that made for the Blight Busters. A little really can go a long way with volunteer work. After this trip, I plan to increase the amount of service work I do, and to take up any opportunity to serve my community. I am also so much more aware of the situation in Detroit. After seeing the completely different environments between JLRA and the Lowe Campbell Ewald building, it just made me realize how much monetary things aren’t necessary, contrary to what we are programmed to think. I really don’t want to live my life measuring my life’s success on the amount of money I make, when there are so many people who would love to have half of what I have already. This trip just really opened my eyes to the things that really matter, and I really think that I will have a different outlook on life afterward. I am so grateful that I got to go on this trip because it opened my eyes so much, and I got to spend a great time and build so many memories with the people I love.
In preparation for our service trip to Detroit within my LAS cohort (which I am super excited about) we have a pre-trip blog post to reflect on Detroit before we get there. This trip will be a wonderful experience for everyone involved. we will get to facilitate leadership exercises with students from the Jalen Rose Leadership academy, and help out with labor work for the Motor City Blight Busters.
I’ve been to Detroit plenty of times in my life, but mostly to attend Tigers or Wings games, or visit the DAI. So I really haven’t been really seen the “bad” parts of Detroit. I do know that Detroit has a poor reputation and derogatory terms such as “the ghetto” are often associated with the city. I know there are plenty of underdeveloped poor areas within the city, but there are also some very nice areas that may not be as populated. There are also many homeless people around the city. Whenever I attend a sporting event, there area always plenty of people on the sidewalks that might have signs asking for money on the way to the games. In err of all the negative aspects of Detroit, I do know that they are in the process fo rebuilding the city, and returning it to its former glory.
The vision and purpose of the Leadership Institute are what drives what the LI does and what the goals are.
PURPOSE: Central Michigan University is committed to preparing Michigan’s students and citizens for leadership roles in an increasingly complex and challenging society.
VISION: The Leadership Institute prepares the next generation of individuals who will act responsibly to improve the quality of life, state of the economy, and communities in which they live and work.
The service work that we are going to be doing on this trip really relates to the purpose and vision of the Leadership Institute. Obviously, there are changes happening in the Detroit area, and that brings challenges and complexity. That is one of the main reasons we are going on this trip. That relates to the Purpose of the LI. WE need to be prepared to handle challenging situations with poise, and this trip is definitely going to prepare us to someday handle this as a leader. The trip also relates to the Vision because one of the biggest reasons we are going on this trip is to better the Detroit community. I hope this trip will teach us the importance of service, and we can carry this value with us into adulthood where we can all incorporate service into our future communities.
I am so excited for this trip, not only to spend the weekend with some of my favorite people on the planet, but because I can wait to experience a great sense of giving. I have done volunteer work in the past, but I haven’t really gone to other communities, especially like Detroit. I’m excited to learn about and dive into this different culture and atmosphere, and I really do think that it will help me grow as a person just by being involved in a different scene than CMU. I can’t wait to experience this service with my LAS cohort, and I am so excited help make a better Detroit.
About the second weekend of school, the freshman (mentees) and sophomore (mentors) LAS classes took a trip up to Eagle Village for the annual Mentor/Mentee Retreat. I’m a freshman, so obviously i was there as a mentee. The trip was supposed to be like a get-to-know-you thing so that each mentor/mentee could build a bigger and better relationship. All of us were separated into about four big groups with our mentors. We each had a team facilitator from Eagle Village (my group’s facilitator’s name was Tim Horton) and throughout the weekend we did different group and team building activities, and we even got to go rock climbing. I was excited to spend time with my mentor, Mackenzie, and my “sister,” Mckenzie, but at the same time, I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect since I really had made no new friends in LAS at that point.
The group team building was really great and I enjoyed all of it. My group was really great and we all got to know each other and had a great time. What I was worried would happen, though, did happen. Since I really hadn’t made too many friends yet, I felt really excluded at some points. The last night we were there, we all sat around a big bonfire and everyone was sharing their stores about how they had such a great time and made such great connections with everyone, and I just didn’t feel the same way. After the bonfire, people were playing board games with each other and stayed up all night out in the common room. I tried to talk to people, but they were busy with their own inside jokes and only concerned with each other, and I totally understand that. I just kept wishing that I could be out there with everyone too, but it really is difficult to make connections and bonds with a group of people who are already comfortable with one another.
Frankly, the Mentor/Mentee Retreat really was not a welcoming first impression of my LAS class. Although I did have a great time with my mentor and sister, I really just couldn’t connect with anyone else in my class and it was very difficult for me. I was never used to feeling like an outsider, and suddenly I did in my group of peers. Since then, I have tried and made a few more friends but it’s still hard when everyone else has built their relationships to such a strong level and you try to join the group. But I try not to let this influence my leadership in any way and I’m still friendly toward everyone, still trying to build more relationships.
Alpha Leadership is a program at CMU open to anyone who wants to improve and learn more about their leadership skills, as well as learn the different kinds of leadership styles. We met every Thursday from 6-8 pm for 5 weeks throughout October and every week, there was a different dress theme (which made it super fun.) (This week’s theme was USA) There were about 5 or 6 different groups made up of around 10 participants and two facilitators to lead the groups throughout the various activities. We did various icebreakers, but we also did activities that I had never done. The group I was in was the “yellow” team, but we took it upon ourselves to rename the group “Gucci Gold Bananas.” My group clicked instantly and we all made sure everyone had a great experience. I really wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about it, because, just like during Safari, I didn’t know if I would enjoy myself since I really didn’t know what exactly to expect or who to expect.
I did end up having a great time though and a lot of that is really because my group was so fantastic. The facilitators led us through every exercise well, but we still had a blast doing it, making jokes and really getting to know one another. One of the nights, we took a leadership style quiz, and I found out what leadership style I was and that is very helpful to know, so you can see how to improve and what your strengths/weaknesses are more.
For the fall of 2015, I want to apply to become an Alpha Leadership Facilitator because I want to not only go through the entire experience again, but I want to make the experience as good, or even better than mine was. It’s a great program and I would sincerely recommend it to any one at Central. Its not just another leadership thing we were required to do, it was a whole experience of growth as a person as well as a leader and I am so glad that I was a part of Alpha.