New ‘Front Line Foresters’ student ambassador program launched

By Rachel Batdorff

The "Front Line Foresters" work to developing strong relationships with university donors. (Photo by Rachel Batdorff

The idea for the “Front Line Foresters” student ambassador program began in the advancement office.

“I had the idea and raised the question to my staff more than a year ago,” Vince Haupert, vice president for advancement, said. “When I started in the position as VP for advancement in June of 2011, it was one of those things I really wanted to implement, but I needed to get a year under my belt.”

The Front Line Foresters student ambassador program is composed of nine students, all recommended by faculty members and selected through an interview process.

As an ambassador, it is the students’ jobs to represent the student body to alumni, family and friends of the university, as well as express gratitude and appreciation to donors.

“The purpose is twofold,” Haupert said of the program. “One is to increase awareness by the student ambassadors of what the advancement office does, and then also inspire our donors just simply from hearing their [the students’] stories.”

Through university phone-a-thons and interviews, Haupert met Will Stauffer, a junior who now works as a student assistant to the vice president of advancement and also serves as a student ambassador on campus.

The two teamed up to further develop what a student ambassador program might look like.

“Why not have somebody who is interested in starting a program actually be a student?” Haupert said of Stauffer’s leadership role in the program.

“Will is a communications student, and that is what this program is all about — telling the students’ stories of how their life has been impacted from their experience here.”

Stauffer worked in the beginning of the summer to develop the program.

“Some key principles we’re trying to focus on from the student side are appreciating generosity and being appreciative to donors for what they already do,” Stauffer said. “And the cool part is we learn what the advancement office is and where the funds come from.”

“This is going to be a job that’s very enjoyable, very easy to do,” Haupert said. “But it’s also a very important job — they represent the greater student body to individuals that have an interest in supporting the university financially.”

The students will be mixing and mingling with trustees, presidents and the advisory council on excellence as well as attending foundation series breakfasts, to name a few of their duties, Haupert said.

“Hopefully the gratitude we display to the donors will extend in the future, beyond us being here,” Stauffer said.

Senior Lance Wood is one of nine student ambassadors.

“I decided to run for the student ambassador position because I wanted to find a way to invest in the university more and to help show my appreciation for what this school means to me,” Wood said. “We are all part of the campus’ image and I would love to be a part in showing gratitude to those donors that have made it what it is today.”

Other student ambassadors are Kyle Geiss, Stephanie Morin, James Parker, Jacob Essig, Rebecca Perhai, Antonio Castillo and Brain Menzie.

The student ambassador position has some perks. It is paid and upon successfully participating in the program and graduating, the students will receive a signed letter of recommendation from Haupert to include on a resume.

Haupert believes this program will raise more funding.

“We believe current students can tell the story of their experience more effectively than we possibly can,” he said.

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