U.S. Department of the Interior Service-Learning Toolkit

Innovations in Civic Participation (ICP)

Updated Interpretation and Education


Service-Learning is “a teaching and learning strategy that integrates community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, introduce possible careers, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.” Service-Learning has been defined by the National Youth Leadership Council as a “multi-faceted learning and teaching process” whereby service projects are embedded with intentional learning goals and designed to meet real community needs.

Although there are multiple definitions for service-learning, the concept remains the same, and experts agree on the core components and quality standards of service-learning programming. The service-learning methodology is an accepted and effective means of engaging youth in a meaningful way with a lasting impact.

The Department of the Interior Service-Learning Toolkit

The Department of the Interior (DOI) encourages using place-based service-learning to instill an appreciation and sense of stewardship for America’s public lands in American youth. The Service-Learning Toolkit serves to:

  • Introduce the concept of service-learning to DOI educators, interpreters, youth program managers, and volunteer coordinators
  • Explain the key elements of quality programming
  • Provide relevant examples of how DOI already successfully uses service-learning

After becoming familiar with the service-learning methodology outlined in the Service-Learning Toolkit, interested DOI staff and volunteers can explore the breadth of knowledge captured in the numerous toolkits and handbooks on the subject—many of which are listed in the appendices of the publication.

What You’ll Find

  1. Overview: What is Service-Learning
  2. Impact: The Benefits of Service-Learning
  3. Methodology: Core Components and Quality Standards
  4. Service-Learning in Action
  5. Steps for Action
  6. Appendices with a list of additional resources

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