Local Internship & Civic Engagement Opportunities

Local Organizations & Opportunities
Completing a part-time internship, volunteer or research project with local community organizations can be a great way to gain experience, develop leadership skills and make a difference. Types of Opportunities: direct service, marketing/communications, program development, research, tutoring/youth development, and public policy & advocacy.

Suggestions for Finding a Meaningful Opportunity
1. Review the descriptions and websites and identify organizations or opportunities that connect with your interests.
2. Contact the organization(s). Share information about your interests, skills, and availability, and either ask for more information or request a phone conversation or in-person meeting to discuss possible opportunities. It is often helpful to attach a resume.
3. Utilize the Piper Center for assistance with identifying, pursuing, and reflecting on your community experiences.
4. Utilize Van-GO! as a free shuttle service for volunteering and community service

Other resources for identifying local civic engagement and internship opportunities: Handshake (posted internship positions), Opportunities by Interest Area, and Community-based Work Study (paid community opportunities, need Federal work-study award).

Greater Northfield Sustainability Collaborative  (links to many sustainability projects)
Learn about sustainability-oriented organizations and opportunities connected to the following issues: water, energy, transportation, food, waste & land.

Accelerate Northfield
Michael Garlitz (mgarlitz@northfieldschools.org)
Accelerate Northfield is a collaboration among Northfield’s residents, businesses, colleges and nonprofits to transform Northfield elementary school students into learning superheroes. Many St. Olaf students are tutors for Accelerate Northfield. Transportation is available between St. Olaf and elementary school sites.

: Bob Thacker (bthacker@adoptaclassroom.org)
AdoptAClassroom.org gives teachers a hand by providing needed classroom materials so that students can succeed. Seeks interns to assist with communications, research, and program development projects.

Arcadia Charter School
Kate Byrne (kbyrbne@artech.k12.mn.us)
Arcadia is looking for students to tutor at its after-school help program on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 3-4pm.

Carlson Capital Management
Scott Feraro (scott@carlsoncap.com)
Carlson Capital Management is a comprehensive wealth management firm with Minnesota offices in Northfield, Hastings, Bloomington and Rochester. CCM offers occasional summer internships to help with general office needs, assistance to professionals and community volunteer opportunities

Greenvale Park Community School
: Laura Berdahl (lberdahl@northfieldschools.org)
The Greenvale Park Community School will connect students, families, and community members through after-school and evening activities and events. A community-based work study position is available for Tuesday and Thursday evening programming.

Healthfinders Collaborative
Contact: Katy Hargis (hargis.katy@healthfindersmn.org)
HealthFinders provides quality health care, advocacy and wellness education to people in our community with limited health care alternatives. HealthFinders has opportunities available for part time internships in the school year, full time summer internships, and volunteer roles including clinical, communications, primary care, and receptionist positions.

HOPE Center
t: Nicki Kelly (nkelly@hopecentermn.org)
HOPE Center is a the local crisis agency in Rice County, serving victims of domestic and sexual violence. Volunteer opportunities include training to become a crisis advocate and staff our crisis line as well as internship possibilities.

Laura Baker Services Association
Paula Teiken (paula@laurabaker.org)
Laura Baker supports individuals with developmental disabilities to lives they want through education, housing and personal support. Laura Baker offers opportunities to volunteer as a college buddy to one of its clients, with kids with developmental disabilities and through special events. It also offers internships in music therapy, professional development, family support services and developmental disabilities support and education.

League of Women Voters– Northfield & Cannon Falls
Mary Hahn (mhahn@hvmd.com)
The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. The league offers volunteer opportunities for students.

Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association
Kathy Zeman (kzeman@mfma.org)
MNFA provides leadership to all farmers’ markets in MN. The group has a couple of grant projects it needs help with that deal with increasing local foodsheds throughout MN, through farmers’ markets. The work includes research, data collection & analysis.

Northfield Area Community Solar
Matt Rohn (rohn@stolaf.edu)
This group works to bring community solar garden opportunities to people in this area. A part-time internship opportunity is available. The work would involve helping with a social justice business in renewable energy and helping with social media efforts and making sure people who might want to subscribe to solar do in time.

Northfield Area Family YMCA
: Virginia Kaczmarek (virginia@northfieldymca.org)
The YMCA is a nonprofit organization working to support youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. The YMCA offers programs and services that support youth development and overall healthy living for those in our community. Projects include hands-on in programs or curriculum and marketing support.

Northfield Area United Way
Elizabeth Child (connect@northfieldunitedway.org)
United Way’s mission is to improve the quality of life in Northfield area by supporting effective programs in Education, Health and Financial Stability/Basic Needs. United Way provides volunteer and internship opportunities which involve writing newsletter stories and volunteer coordination.

Northfield Arts Guild
Alyssa Herzog Melby
The Northfield Arts Guild is a multidisciplinary arts center whose mission is to inspire the community by developing, supporting, and providing quality, inclusive artistic opportunities. The Northfield Arts Guild provides work study, internship, and volunteer opportunities in arts programming and administration.

Northfield Community Action Center (CAC)- Food Shelf
Contact: Michael Pursell (pursell.michael@communityactioncenter.org)
The Community Action Center is a private, nonprofit organization serving the greater Northfield area whose mission is to promote a healthy, caring and just community for all people through resources, advocacy and volunteer effort. Volunteers at the Food Shelf assist in food distribution to clients, donation processing, and maintaining shelf inventory. Contact Stephanie for schedule openings. May also be openings with the Clothes Closet or Thursday’s Table.

Northfield Grassroots Transit Initiative
Contact: Suzie Nakasian (suzienakasian@gmail.com)
This local grassroots consortium has been working since 2008 to restore Northfield’s regional passenger rail connection to the Twin Cities and provide leadership on bike trails in Northfield. They are looking for volunteers to get involved in a variety of projects or to help with future events!

Northfield Healthy Community Initiative: Youth Matters
Sandy Malecha (sandy@northfieldhci.org)
HCI has a 22-year history of supporting local programs dedicated to improving the lives of young people. HCI is collaborating on nearly 20 local initiatives, convening like-minded organizations and providing the leadership, measurement tracking, communications and grant writing support that allow them to further leverage their resources for their programs that benefit youth. Interested students are encouraged to reach out; HCI has a number of different ongoing projects or initiatives, and can sometimes tailor the experience to the student’s interests.

Northfield Hospital & Clinics
Sara Lippert (lipperts@northfieldhospital.org)
Northfield Hospital & Clinics is devoted to providing excellent care to patients and residents in the local region through the use of many specialized services, staff, and a large network of volunteers. Volunteer opportunities include: leading resident activities within the Long Term Care Center; clerical and hospitality-focused positions within the Emergency Department, Center for Sports Medicine & Rehabilitation, and surgical areas; and specialized positions exist within the hospice department.

Northfield Middle School Youth Center
: Linda Oto (linda.oto@nfld.k12.mn.us)
The Middle School Youth Center is a free drop-in program offering homework help, enrichment clubs and recreation activities. Volunteers will help middle school students with homework as well as have the opportunity to develop, lead or participate in enrichment clubs and recreation activities.

Northfield Public Schools
Daryl Kehler (dkehler@northfieldschools.org)
The Northfield school district is looking for students to volunteer with its PLUS program.The two main goals of the PLUS program are to provide academic support and social emotional support to at-risk youth. Northfield does this through a combination of teacher led clubs and community based club offerings. the program runs after school on Monday-Thursday, for roughly 1.5 hours. The main opportunity of the PLUS program include assisting teachers and community members with providing instruction and club offerings for children in grades K-8.

Northfield Public Schools Community Services Division, Early Childhood Programs
: Sara Line (sline@northfieldschools.org)
Early Childhood provides lifelong learning opportunities, focusing on programming for children ages 0-5 and their parents. They have classrooms of students ages 0-5 and sometimes parents. They are looking for volunteers to help out with preschool, outreach, special events, programming for at-risk families.

Northfield Senior Center
Lynne Pederson (lynnepederson@nscmn.org)
The Northfield Senior Center is a member organization that provides creative ways for people, 50 and older, to age with gusto by participating in fitness, agua, art, life-long learning, social, and community engagement activities. The center is looking for student to help with marketing projects, website design, assisting with art classes, volunteer in numerous programs, and one-time projects.

Northfield Union of Youth (The Key)
Rachel Woldum (woldumr@gmail.com)
The NUY is a youth-run youth center for kids ages 12-20. It provides leadership and community service opportunities, plus free recreational and educational programming to Northfield youth during at-risk times of the day. The Key is youth-run and looking for volunteers for programs running from 3-10pm after school. Programs specifically in need of volunteers include the chess club, the skateboard coalition, and the book club. They love volunteers who want to bring their passion to the volunteering and run a program based on their interests.

Project Friendship
Sarah VanSickle (sarah@projectfriendshipmentoring.org)
Project Friendship is a mentoring organization that matches Northfield youth in grades 2-7 with a college mentor to increase the child’s confidence and self worth. Internships include hands-on experience with nonprofit management, public communications, volunteer management, event planning and marketing.

So How Are the Children/SHAC
Carolyn Treadway (ctreadway@shac4youth.org)
SHAC provides academic and social support to immigrant and refugee youth during the day at Faribault Schools’ Newcomer Center sites and during afterschool programming. SHAC offers a range of opportunities to mentor and support diverse youth. This includes volunteer opportunities throughout the day and evening; paid part-time internships and a paid evening position as a homework help assistant at the Faribault Library.

St. Dominic School
Mylie Lougheed (mylielougheed@schoolofstdominic.org )
St. Dominic School is a private Catholic school located on St. Olaf Ave. Various volunteer opportunities are available.

Three Links Care Center
Carol Fredrickson (carol.fredrickson@threelinks.org)
Three Links Campus provides housing and services for seniors. Volunteers are needed and appreciated for a variety of activities including Adopt-a-Grandparent, staffing the gift shop, helping with crafts, providing special music, assisting in resident activity groups and socials, and more

Three Links Cottages
Irene Mustazza (irene.mustazza@threelinks.org)
Three Links Cottages provide a home-like setting for those with memory loss. The Cottages are seeking volunteers to provide special music events or casual times at the piano, one-to-one visitors, help with activities such as bingo or crafts, and more.

Santhi Sheehan (ssheehan@northfieldschools.org)
Tackling Obstacles and Raising College Hopes (TORCH) is a college-access and student-support program for low-income and first generation students in Northfield. TORCH is looking for Oles who are interested in working with youth. They have opportunities during the school day (8am-3pm) and after school (3-5pm) and LOVE having Oles as role models for their students.

Volunteer Network (VN)
Contact: Suzanne Hanle
The Volunteer Network works to connect St. Olaf students with volunteer opportunities both on and off campus. Contact Volunteer Network to learn more about these opportunities and organizations that provide service opportunities.


Opportunities from Prior Years

Dakota Prairie ABE
Rosemary Sharkey (rmsharkey@yahoo.com)
Dakota Prairie ABE provides basic education services for adults 17 years and older including English language learners. They are looking for classroom volunteers and one-on-one tutors.

First United Church of Christ Choir
Christopher Brunelle (brunelle@stolaf.edu)
First United Church of Christ (firstucc.org) is a thriving member of the UCC denomination with a strong focus on the use of arts in worship, on community involvement, and on the open and affirming support of all God’s people, regardless of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, or ability. Its two adult choirs, the Senior Choir and Spirit Voices, are looking for volunteers to sing during the fall semester. Rides to and from St. Olaf are always available. Volunteers do not need to be members of First UCC or of any church to take part in our worship service. Rehearsals are on Wednesday evenings at 7:00. Sunday rehearsals are at 9:30; the service is from 10:30 to approximately 11:30. Contact Christopher Brunelle (brunelle@stolaf.edu) to join up and sing!

Residential Living Systems
Joe Gransee-Bowmanew (joegb@northfieldwifi.com )
Residential Living Systems is an organization designed to help homeowners with energy retrofitting and improving energy efficiency. They are looking for volunteers for fall projects and social media and marketing outreach “builders.”

Rice County Chemical Health Coalition
: Kathy Sandberg (ksandberg@ricecountychc.com)
The Coalition is committed to prevent youth alcohol/other drug use and to increase the community’s capacity to engage in prevention. Multiple opportunities are available including social media efforts, calendar of community education opportunities, marketing efforts, creation of stories videos, youth events and more.

Three Rivers Community Action

Contact: Mike Thorsteinson (MTorsteinson@threeriverscap.org)
Colleen Hansen – Family Advocacy Services Director (colleen.hansen@threeriverscap.org)
Three Rivers Community Action is Minnesota-based, offering housing, health, employment, education and transportation services for low-income families in the community. Three Rivers is looking to work with interns in public policy in public transit and social work interns in family development programs.

Northfield Middle School Youth Center

Contact: Linda Oto (linda.oto@nfld.k12.mn.us)
The Middle School Youth Center is a free drop-in program offering homework help, enrichment clubs and recreation activities. Volunteers will help middle school students with homework as well as have the opportunity to develop, lead or participate in enrichment clubs and recreation activities.

Friends of Way Park

Contact: Matt Rohn (rohn@stolaf.edu)
Friends of Way Park is an organization dedicated to maintaing and improving Way Park, a community park just east of campus. Possible projects include helping develop the playground into a nature play area and developing a plan in conjunction with the City for a bike path through Way Park.

Northfield Chamber of Commerce

The Chamber is a business advocacy group that focuses on advocacy and education. They have opportunities for student volunteers in business advocacy.

Growing Up Healthy and the LINK Center

Contact: Leah Eby (leah@growinguphealthy.org) or Richard Coffin ‘13 (richardbcoffin@gmail.com)
The goal of Growing Up Healthy is to increase the level of community connectedness experienced by marginalized families in Rice County through community organizing, education, and collaboration to achieve social change. Growing Up Healthy is looking for someone to run their multicultural cooking club and volunteers of all skill levels to renovate a trailer.

The LINK Center is always looking for volunteers interested in using spanish and english to connect members of the community with resources they can benefit from within the community.


Contact: Nick Mertesdorf (nmertesdorf@faribault.k12.mn.us)
ProjectABLE provides educational and recreational programming to Rice County residents with disabilities. ProjectABLE is looking for volunteers to be involved in their bowling league, bingo program, run arts and crafts, lead field-trips, and many other year round volunteer opportunities.

Rice County Mental Health Collective

Contact: Janet Lewis Muth (janet@growinguphealthy.org)
The Rice County Mental Health Collective was created in order to address the broken mental health care system in Rice County. Currently, they work towards their mission of shifting the system of mental health care in Rice County from a medical model to a public health model. They work on mental health promotion and prevention interventions and work to expand and improve treatment and care. They are looking for volunteers to get involved in any of the following areas: prevention, promotion, and care.

Rice County Community Corrections

Contact: Christine Curtis (ccurtis@co.rice.mn.us)
Rice County Community Corrections works in an alternative way to supervise parolees in the county. They are looking for an intern with an interest in statistics and public policy to see if the newly implemented programs are working to change behaviors and make a difference. For more information and to express interest, contact Christine Curtis (ccurtis@co.rice.mn.us)!


Contact: Bill Steele (bsteele@gecotrans.com)
EcoTrans provides eco-friendly transportation alternatives to and from the Northfield and greater south metro, Minnesota area. EcoTrans work to reduce emissions and resource consumption. They are calling all “transit-nerds!” Looking for students to get involved in special projects they are beginning. For more information and to express interest, please contact Bill Steele (bsteele@geocotrans.com).

Epic Enterprise

Contact: Julie Ryan (jryan@epicenterpriseinc.org)
Epic Enterprise provides support to adults with disabilities in the Rice County area. Looking for “epic volunteers” for the community. Epic is looking for volunteers for existing programs or programs they would like to begin. Have a passion for something you would like to share with disabled adults in the community, volunteer with Epic! Transportation should not be an issue. Epic is happy to transport participants to campus or any venue the volunteer may choose.

Northfield City Council

Contact: Suzie Nakasian  (suzienakasian@gmail.com)
The Northfield City Council has taken on interns in the past who are interested in municipal issues and city project. They are looking for volunteers to get involved in a variety of projects. They want students to use the city as a classroom!

Northfield Environmental Quality Commission (EQC)
Susannah Shmurak (sshmurak@carleton.edu)
The EQC is government commission focused on creating solutions to local sustainability issues. Current topics include curbside compost, establishing a heritage tree designation, promoting rain gardens, and rain barrels; the EQC is also open to other initiatives. The EQC is looking for student interns to help with their Curbside Organics Collections program and the Greenstep Cities program.

Contact: Christopher Tassava (christopher@tassava.com)
Northfield.org is the city’s online commons: a space for organizations and individuals to share news and information of interest to the community. Northfield.org is always seeking new sources of and channels for information, so students could readily help gather information, prepare it for the website, or disseminate it online through the website or social media.

Community Based Work Study (St. Olaf)

Contact: Julie Bubser (bubserj@stolaf.edu)
Work study can be done through the community off-campus. There are many opportunities for volunteering that could could towards your work award!

Other Faribault Opportunities

  • Faribault Volunteer Guide There are many opportunities to get involved with organizations and projects in Faribault, a town of approximately 22,000 people located 15 miles south of Northfield. Faribault presents a number of unique opportunities to support projects that address the needs of immigrants from Latin America, Somalia and Sudan.