National Volunteer Week: A Tribal school makes a documentary in Washington

National Volunteer Week is a time to recognize the time and effort that volunteers put into their service to better their communities. Report for America corps members volunteer their time on a service project, generally a student journalism or youth media project, to help teach media literacy and storytelling skills to the next generation.

We spoke with corps members across the country about their projects and what community service means to them.

Natasha Brennan | The News Tribune

I’m working with a group of seniors at a local Tribal school to produce a documentary on the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People crisis in Washington state. We’re prioritizing in-person interviews, so it’s been challenging to coordinate around the students’ schedules and activities, our interviewees and of course my own work and personal commitments; but I’m so excited for them to get the hands-on experience. That is truly irreplaceable and the biggest success so far. Working with the youth of my community to teach them the importance of journalism, while giving them the opportunity to explore their own hobbies and talents, is an incredibly rewarding opportunity.

What does community service mean to you?

Community service is giving back to the people and environment that helped you become the person that you are now. The hope is that they may in turn grow from it too and pass it on. I’ve always seen community service as a cyclical process of public growth — that you give more than you take. I think one of the best ways to serve your community is to volunteer your time and use your unique talents to teach someone else, particularly youth, a skill. It will serve your community long after your own lifetime.

What feedback do you hear from students?

The students are always super thankful and excited to get out in the field.

How has working with young journalists changed the way you think about journalism?

It’s helped me to see how the skills that you learn from journalism can be used in so many other fields. I have students who want to be real estate agents who have said they see themselves using skills I taught them to showcase homes. Or a student who said he wants to be a business owner and now has media skills to promote their future business. I think this project has really opened my eyes to the plethora of opportunities and innovative ideas the next generation is creating for themselves.

Want to learn more about our corps members’ service projects? Read more profiles here and here

About Report for America

Report for America is a national service program that places talented emerging journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered topics and communities. Launched in 2017, Report for America is creating a new, sustainable system that provides people with the information they need to improve their communities, hold powerful institutions accountable, and rebuild trust in the media. Report for America is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project.