Week of Service


Exploring Poverty

In 2013, the Honors College adopted a theme of poverty as a means to raise awareness on the current issues surrounding poverty across the state of Alabama to our students.

In keeping with Auburn's land-grant mission and with Auburn's historic commitment to service, the Honors College developed the k(no)w poverty? Week of Service program. This program was created as a way to give students first-hand experience to the wide array of poverty.

Developed as a service and service learning series to incoming freshmen, the program both is both challenging and enlightening. Participating students have stated the week is an "eye-opening experience" and the "perfect way to start their career at Auburn University."

We invite you to explore current and past k(no)w poverty? Week of Service events:

The 2017 k(no)w poverty? Week of Service

The 2017 k(no)w poverty? Week of Service Graphic

About the Week of Service

A Week of Lectures, Films, and Service

After the k(no)w poverty? Week of Service, students should be able to articulate the root causes of poverty, and the propagation of the cycle of poverty. Participants will experience how intentional service can help alleviate poverty and learn about opportunities to serve the community through the Honors College and Auburn University.

k(no)w poverty? Week of Service 2017 Recap Video

Enjoy photos from counselors and staff from the 2017 k(no)w poverty? Week of Service:

Photo Gallery

group photo so students in atrium

Meet Our Counselors

Head Counselors

Headshot of Alex Dobbins

Alex Dobbins

"I fully expect this Week of Service to be super beneficial for everyone involved, from learning about the prevalence of local poverty and its solution to making lifelong friends. See y’all soon and War Eagle!" Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama Major: Microbiology Minor: Hunger Studies Interests/Hobbies: Playing with dogs, Running, Reading, and Traveling.

Headshot of Carter Williams

Carter Williams

"I hope that this year’s k(no)w Poverty Week of Service is an opportunity for students to get connected with the Honors Community and to experience various ways to serve in the area that we will call home during our college years." Hometown: Mobile, Alabama Major: Applied Mathematics Interests/Hobbies:Boating, Golf, and Auburn Athletics


Headshot of Matthew Ergle

Matthew Ergle

"The Week of Service is such an eye-opening experience for everyone involved. It certainly had a great impact on me, and I cannot wait to help others learn about serving and alleviating poverty in our area." Hometown: Abbeville, South Carolina Major: Mechanical Engineering Interests/Hobbies: Running, Hiking, Soccer, and Music

Headshot of Colton Harris

Colton Harris

"The week of service is a great way to make new friends, serve the community, and get to know the Honors College very well. It will not disappoint!" Hometown: Oak Grove, Alabama Major: Civil Engineering Interests/Hobbies: All sports, Hunting, Fishing, and Country music

Headshot of Chris Heilmann

Chris Heilmann

"K(no)w Poverty week of service was hands down the best way to start  my college career, and now I want to make it just as great for the new incoming freshman." Hometown: Roswell, Georgia Major: Aerospace Engineering Interests/Hobbies: Space, Spur of the moment trips with friends, Woodworking, and Blacksmithing

Headshot of Kailey Beth Smith

Kailey Beth Smith

"The k(no)w Poverty Week of Service was the absolute best way to begin my time at Auburn University.  During the week, I became connected to other students, as well as to the community. I learned so many things that broke my heart, and that gave me a desire to serve those people and this place." Hometown: Mobile, Alabama Major: Pre-Journalism and Political Science Interests/Hobbies: Reading, Writing, Photography, Kayaking, Indie/Folk music, Coffee, and Hand Lettering

Headshot of Chris Steward

Chris Steward

"The k(no)w Poverty Week of Service was one of my favorite experiences during my first year at Auburn, and I hope this year’s Week of Service will be the same for incoming freshman who participate. I look forward to serving and learning about poverty with the other counselors and incoming honors students!" Hometown: Bay Minette, Alabama Major: Civil Engineering Minor: Business Interests/Hobbies: Hunting, Kayaking, Going to the beach, Serving, Running, Camping, Being outside

Headshot of Mitchell Tate

Mitchell Tate

"I hope everyone has as great of an educational experience in this year's Week of Service  as I did last year." Hometown: Columbiana, Alabama Major: Biomedical Sciences Interests/Hobbies: Sports, Traveling, and Boating

Headshot of Devin Taylor

Devin Taylor

"Week of Service was a great college experience as I got to make many friendships and learn about how I can help my community." Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama Major: Civil Engineering Minor: Community and Civic Engagement Interests/Hobbies:Trying out new sports, Reading, and Eating

Items to Bring to your Week of Service

Closed-Toe Shoes, Work Clothes, Work Gloves, Reusable Water Bottles, Sunscreen, Personal Bag (small drawstring bag will do), and Old T-shirts to donate (will be cut up for a craft)

Move-in Information

Students living on campus will move in on Friday, August 11, 2017. An Early Housing Move-In Fee of $90 will be charged to the student. If this fee is unaffordable, and the student shows documented financial need, please contact Dr. Ken Thomas via email. Students living off campus should move in on Friday, August 11, 2017, as well. Students living off campus will need to arrange permission with their residencies (apartment owners, landlord’s, etc.) to move in on this date. Some places have different move-in dates.

If university documentation is required for an early move in, contact Dr. Thomas via email and he will assist you. Service Training will begin on Saturday, August 12, 2017 at 9 a.m. so students must be settled into their accommodations by then.


Do I need a car to participate? No, participants are free to drive, but transportation will be provided for those without vehicles. Do I need to live on campus to participate? No, any incoming Honors College Freshman is eligible to apply. Will I get to move into my actual on-campus room if I participate in the WoS? Yes you will. Housing will send out specific instructions on when and where to get your room key. Housing move-in registration is open, what should I do? Register or not? Yes, register for move-in as if you are not attending the program. If selected, the Honors College will notify you, and place you on a modified move-in schedule. Are meals provided during the WoS? Most meals are provided during the WoS. A schedule is provided that clearly indicates when and where meals and snacks will be provided. Participants with special dietary restrictions will be accommodated as much as possible. Can I participate with dietary restrictions? Yes, we will work with you to ensure your needs are met. Will campus dining be open during the WoS? Limited campus dining locations will be open during the WoS till Thursday 17, August when regular dining operations will commence. Where can we park during the WoS? Students that live both on and off campus will be allowed to park on campus during the WoS based on an arrangement with Parking Services. Participants that are accepted into the program will be notified of designated areas for parking in advance of arriving on campus. Will I have the opportunity to do other activities during the WoS? The WoS runs all day with mandatory and optional activities at night. In order to be fully immersed in serving and getting to know fellow freshmen, it is recommended that participants not be involved in any other activities that week. What is the k(no)w poverty? WoS class? This class is a 1 credit hour pass/fail Honors College participation course (i.e. does not affect your GPA) that would run in the Fall semester. The class only meets 6 times over the semester. See “Course Offering: HONR 1087. How can I sign up for the k(no)w poverty? WoS class? At the time of signing up to participate in the WoS, you will indicate whether you want to be in the class or not. Honors College staff will then place students in the class. This class will remain closed throughout CWE since only participants are eligible to be in this class.

Course Offering: HONR 1087

Students will have the opportunity to take a one-hour Honor’s participation course. This class will allow students to discuss in a greater depth poverty and possible solutions to poverty beyond community service. The class will meet about four to six times over the course of the semester. Students cannot register for this class at Camp War Eagle. Students must request to be placed in this class after participating in the week of service.

Week of Service Partners

A special thank you to all of our partners! Alabama Rural Ministry (ARM) Habitat for Humanity Habitat for Humanity ReStore AU Office of Alumni Affairs AU School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences AU Center for Civic Engagement AU Civic Learning Initiatives, College of Liberal Arts AU McWhorter School of Building Science Storybook Farms AU Government and Economic Development Institute AU Division of Student Affairs Salvation Army of Lee County Mary Ellen’s Hearth St. Margaret’s Service AUM Conference Services Salvation Army of Montgomery The University of Alabama Center for Ethics & Social Responsibility Jean Dean RIF Food Bank of East Alabama Feeding The Valley Food Bank Alabama Possible AU Housing & Residence Life AU Parking Services


Registration for the 2017 Week of Service is now closed.

The 2016 k(no)w poverty? Week of Service


k(no)w poverty? Week of Service Image Gallery | 2016


Week of Service Video Recap 2016

About the Week of Service

- Open to first 50 registrants | Incoming Honors freshman

- Lectures, films & service

- Three (3) days of service

- Participants will earn class credit for Honors Participation through (HONR 1087) Honors Hands-on Service & Service Learning.

- No fee to participate. Includes t-shirt, lunches, welcome dinner, two breakfasts, transportation, and supplies.

- $90 Early Housing fee - for on campus move-ins on Friday, August 5, 2016 |  Please see Housing Section

Anyone who is not able to afford this fee and has documented need can contact Ken Thomas via email.

- Optional activities included to meet students before and during program.

What you will learn:

  • You will be more aware of the persistence of poverty in Alabama and especially in the Auburn-Opelika area
  • After this week you should be able to articulate the root causes of poverty and the propagation of the cycle of poverty
  • You will have a clearer idea of how intentional service can help to alleviate poverty – directly or indirectly
  • You will be more aware of opportunities to serve in the Auburn-Opelika area while being an Honors students at Auburn University


"I loved it . It honestly opened my eyes to the poverty I am surrounded by living in Alabama."

"It was super amazing and really enlightening!"

"It opened my eyes up so much and all the people involved were so real and welcoming. I was really not excited about it starting the week, but after the first day I was so excited. It has inspired me to want to work with several service based organizations on campus, and it showed me the importance of volunteers in the community."

"I really enjoyed the Week of Service. It far exceeded my expectations. I am so glad that I participated in the Week of Service."

"The Week of Service was an extremely rewarding experience."

"The Week of Service was absolutely amazing. I made friends, gained knowledge about poverty, and had tons of fun. Also, the counselors were wonderful. Thank you!"

"This is a great opportunity to get to know new people in the honors college, learn about the nature of poverty in the United States and what you personally can do about it, and serve others in the local Auburn community."

(Testimonials received from anonymous participant survey)

Meet Our 2016 Counselors

Head Counselors

Headshot of Jessica Knezha

Jessica Knezha

"I expect this week of service to be enlightening for the students about themselves and their community."

Hometown: Mobile, Alabama

Major: Software Engineering
Minor: Theater

Interests/Hobbies: Making movies, Jewelry making, Playing violin

  Headshot of Hailee Walls

Hailee Walls

"I’m so excited to be part of so many freshmen’s first college experience!"

Hometown: Elkmont, Alabama

Major: Agricultural Communication and Spanish
Minor: International Human Sciences

Interests/Hobbies:Working, reading nonfictional books on philosophy and psychology, Writing, Traveling


Headshot of Becky Martin

Becky Martin

" I cannot wait to see how the week of service impacts you (the freshmen) by building new friendships and giving back to the Auburn community.”

Hometown: Thiensville, Wisconsin

Major: Biomedical Sciences
Minor:Community and Civic Engagement

Interests/Hobbies: Serving, Running, Baking, and Being outside

  Headshot of Mary Berkstresser width=

Mary Berkstresser

"The Week of Service was one of the best things I have ever done. I met a lot of really great people and had a ton of fun!”

Hometown: Slapout, Alabama

Major: Natural Resources Management
Minor:Nature Based Recreation

Interests/Hobbies: I really love reading. I have a dog named Charlie, and we love to take walks around the pond.

Headshot of Carter Williams

Carter Williams

"I hope that this year’s K(no)w Poverty Week of Service is an opportunity for students to get connected with the Honors Community and to experience various ways to serve in the area that we will call home during our college years."

Hometown: Mobile, Alabama

Major: Electrical Engineering

Interests/Hobbies: Boating, Golf, and Auburn Athletics

  Headshot of Alex Dobbins

Alex Dobbins

"I fully expect this Week of Service to be extremely beneficial for each person involved, from learning about the prevalence of local poverty and its solution to making lifelong friends. See y’all soon and War Eagle!"

Hometown: Hartselle, Alabama

Major: Biomedical Sciences
Minor: Hunger Studies

Interests/Hobbies: Playing with dogs, running, reading, and traveling in my spare time. 

Headshot of Sydney Sneed

Sydney Sneed

"So excited for the opportunity to work with the other counsellors and our 50 incredible freshmen as we serve Auburn's beautiful community!"

Hometown: Hartselle, Alabama

Major: Exercise Science and Spanish

Interests/Hobbies: Running, Cooking, Reading, Hiking with friends at Chewacla, and Playing with puppies at Lee County Humane Society


Week of Service Coordinator headshot Jill Thackston

Jill Thackston

"I think the upcoming Week of Service will be a great way for the incoming class to really get involved with their new community and will make their transition into college so much easier by meeting new people and making connections into other organizations!"

Hometown: Collierville, Tennessee

Major: Pre-Business

Interests/Hobbies: Spending time volunteering at the local Humane Society and even fostering for them

Headshot of Brytni Emison

Brytni Emison

"Friendships I made, with fellow Week of Service participants, and hope to facilitate this year, which ultimately have helped usher me into the Auburn family, have supported my intellectual, social, and academic life at Auburn. I hope to facilitate a positive intellectual environment that allows for friendships to be made with like-minded students this year that can continue their k(no)w poverty? experience into the academic year and beyond."

Hometown: Melbourne, Florida

Major: Political Science and Public Relations

Interests/Hobbies: Soccer

Week of Service Coordinator headshot Carly Westmoreland

Carly Westmoreland

"I am very excited to find out where this year's events will take place and how many people it will impact. Have done so much research on poverty since the 2015 Week of Service, and I would really love to have more opportunities to make a difference."

Hometown: Addison, Alabama

Major: Biomedical Sciences / Pre-Med

Interests/Hobbies: Service, Music, and Volleyball

Headshot of Alex Koda

Alex Koda

"I hope that the 2016 WoS changes lives just like it changed mine."

Hometown: Montgomery, Alabama

Major: Conservation and Biodiversity

Interests/Hobbies: Karate, and Being outdoors

Meet our 2016 Organization Partners


Alabama Rural Ministry

Salvation Army

Food Bank of East Alabama

Jean Dean RIF


Alabama Possible

Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences

Auburn University College of Liberal Arts

Alabama Rural Health Association

Center For Ethics and Social Responsibility at the University of Alabama

Auburn University Division of Student Affairs

Agenda | August 2016

(Agenda items are subject to change)

Friday | August 5 (optional day)

Early move-in (by appointment)

Meet & greet

Saturday |  August 6 (optional day)

Outdoor Fun & Games at Chewacla State Park

Late Night movie

Sunday | August 7


Scavenger Hunt icebreaker

Introductory dinner

Educational film

Late Night Sand Volleyball (optional)

Late Night Snack Chat (optional)

Monday | August 8

Official welcome

Guest lectures

Half day of service

Educational film

Late Night Board Games (optional)

Late Night Movie (optional)

Tuesday | August 9

Half Day of Service

Poverty Simulation

Late Night Outdoor Games (optional)

Late Night Movie (optional)

Wednesday | August 10

Full day of service

Educational Film

Late Night Board Games (optional)

Late Night Educational Film (optional)

Thursday | August 11

Full day of service

Dinner & Reflection

Educational Film

Late Night Karaoke (optional)

Friday | August 12

Guest lectures, reflection & farewell

Afternoon service (optional)

Movie trip to Carmike Cinema (optional)

Items to pack for your Week of Service

Work gloves

Refillable water bottle


Bug spray

Work clothes

Closed-toe shoes

Move-In Information

The first optional activity starts at 5 pm on August 5th.

Please do not feel rushed, there will be plenty of time to move-in and get settled into your room.

The 2015 k(no)w poverty? Week of Service

K(no)w Poverty 2015 flyer

Week of Service Image Gallery | 2015

Five K(no)w Poverty Volunteer posing

 Week of Service Video Recap

The 2014 k(no)w poverty? Week of Service

K(no)w Poverty 2014 graphic

Week of Service Information Packet

Download the 2014 packet of information given to all k(no)w poverty? Week of Service participants.

Last modified: October 4, 2018