GREENVILLE — Tyler Beasley of Elizabethtown is one of 21 East Carolina University students who have interned at small nonprofits and local government agencies as part of the Public Service Fellows program.
Beasley worked with the Hyde County Planning Department to build a comprehensive list of existing businesses on the mainland and Ocracoke Island, along with information about business type, number of part-time and full-time employees, annual sales and revenue, and current information needs. The goal of the project was to increase economic and environmental sustainability and anticipate resource needs for future development.
The initiative is a pilot program operating at ECU, Appalachian State University and The University of North Carolina atPembroke. Funded by a $100,000 grant from the State Employees’ Credit Union Foundation, it is aimed at boosting the manpower available to local organizations that deliver critical community services. ECU received $100,000 in April and created 20 fellowships.
Eight students interned over the summer, and 13 offered their services during the fall semester. Each student who participated earned a $4,500 scholarship. Their 300 hours of service provided valuable hands-on experience in addition to helping meet the needs of the local agencies.
Sharon Paynter, interim director of public service and community relations at ECU, said after the other Public Service fellows complete their internships, she and others will determine whether the initiative achieved its goals.
Many of the interns told Paynter how the program enhanced their academic work.
“We had a meeting (of all the interns) to process some of this and they were talking about getting to do things that make their classroom work come alive,” she said. “To have an opportunity to practice some things they read about in textbooks has been valuable to them.”