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Students Spend Summer in Clinton Community Fellows Program

Experience Allows Participants to 'See the Community through a Different Lens'

August 14, 2014

Chatting after their final presentation Aug. 13 are, from the left, Joshua Rhodes, Victoria Martini and Stephen Crouch.

Chatting after their final presentation Aug. 13 are, from the left, Joshua Rhodes, Victoria Martini and Stephen Crouch.

Two Wilmington College students from Clinton County had a unique opportunity to make the transition from viewing their community as previously narrowly focused teenagers to that of adult insiders.

Senior Joshua Rhodes and junior Victoria Martini, along with University of Cincinnati student Stephen Crouch, spent 10 weeks this summer in the Clinton Community Fellows program.

In its fifth year, CCF is designed to give bright college students a host of professional and networking opportunities in the community, where which they not only learn but also can lend their skills and talents for the betterment of Wilmington and Clinton County.

Taylor Stuckert of Energize Clinton County, one of the sponsoring organizations, said the Fellows program “plants seeds” for emerging young professionals.

“Through this experience, they see the community through a different lens and gain a new appreciation for the community,” he said.

While the Fellows received insiders’ access to the workings of the city and county, each was matched with two local businesses, organizations or non-profit entities in which they learned about their mission and vision, and used their expertise to assist in their achieving greater success.

Rhodes worked with the Clinton County Farm Bureau and Otmars Handcrafted Woodworking.

An art and communication arts major, he studied Marshall McLuhan, the 20th century philosopher of communication theory that predicted the Internet 50 years ago and is best known for the phrase, “The medium is the message.”

Indeed, Rhodes subscribes to that maxim in that, how one communicates something is as important as what is communicated. He helped design an appealing publication for the Farm Bureau and enhanced Otmars’ presence on the World Wide Web and in social media.

Crouch, an urban planning major at UC, worked with the Experiential Academy and Clinton County Health Foundation while Martini was assigned to the Arcadia Learning Center and Clinton County Port Authority.

With the latter, she generated support for “reintroducing” the Port Authority to the community, which many felt did not fully grasp the organization’s purpose and goals.

Coinciding with this, Martini, who is majoring in English with a theatre minor, did public relations work in the planning and production of the Port Authority’s public opening of a new hangar at the Wilmington Air Park. This entailed coordinating Gov. John Kasich’s visit to the ceremony with his staff in Columbus.

In the five years since the Fellows program was established, 20 Fellows, each of whom receives a stipend supported by local donors, have worked some 8,000 hours with 56 entities in the community.

“For the investment, it’s really quite astounding what the community gets back from the program,” Stuckert said.

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