MSU Bonner Americorps Students Off to New Orleans

Nine MSU students head south to aid in ongoing rebuilding efforts in New Orleans as part of the Bonner Americorps Program.

MSU Bonner AmeriCorps Students Engage in Service Trip to New Orleans

On June 5, 2011, nine Montclair State University Bonner Leaders, as part of the Bonner AmeriCorps Program, will embark on a trip to New Orleans to aid in the ongoing rebuilding efforts for areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2004. Bonner Leaders are students who have made a commitment to perform community service for their college campus community for a minimum of 300 hours a year, and provide critical assistance to the community through projects that address education, health, human needs, environment and disaster relief.

The Bonner Leaders, along with their supervisor, Krystal Woolston, Interim Coordinator for Service Learning and Community Engagement, will depart from Newark, New Jersey by train and travel south to begin their rebuilding efforts. Once there, the Bonners will work with Habitat for Humanity (HFH) to rebuild homes destroyed by the hurricane. In addition to their work with HFH, they will partner with North Rampart Community Center to rebuild a portion of a home that damaged by the storm. In the Fall 2011 semester, the Bonners will develop and conduct presentations for the Montclair State campus community that reflect on their experience and what they have learned.

The trip to New Orleans is mostly funded through donations, although some grant funds were made available by the Environment, Education & Community Outreach (EECO) Initiative, which is an Americorps project. Two participants of the traveling group are EECO members.

The group traveling to New Orleans includes MSU Bonner Leader, Suzy DeMatteo, who was awarded AmeriCorps Member of Excellence this spring by the Bonner Foundation.

Freshman, sophomore and junior students who are interested in becoming members of the Bonner Leader program are encouraged to apply in the spring semesters. They must go through an interview process and meet certain eligibility criteria to be selected.  Thirty students have made the cut and been selected for next year's (2011/2012) Bonner Leader Program. Although faculty are not officially associated with the program, many Montclair State faculty fully support and help promote the program, and participate indirectly as mentors and leaders. Dr. Valerie Sessa, Professor of Psychology, is currently attending the Bonner Summer Leadership Institute up at Sienna College with ten Bonner Leaders.

 To learn more about the Montclair State Bonner Leaders, the Bonner Americorp Program, or any service-learning/community engagement program available here at Montclair State University, contact Krystal Woolston, Interim Service Learning Coordinator, at 973-655-4382 or, or Bryan Murdock, Director of Service Learning and Community Engagement at 973-655-6831 or