Week of Service

In keeping with Auburn’s land-grant mission, the Honors College has adopted the theme of poverty in order to raise awareness to all of our students on the issues surrounding poverty across the state of Alabama. With Auburn’s historic commitment to service, this hands on learning experience gives students insights on poverty across the nation and world-wide.  Developed as a hands-on service and service learning series to incoming freshman, this Honors College program will challenge and enlighten students to the issues of poverty both locally and world-wide.

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

About the Week of Service

Lectures, Films, and Service

Three Days of Service

Students will gain awareness of poverty in the state of Alabama.

After the 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.

Students will learn about more opportunities to serve the community through the Honors College and Auburn University.

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: I love playing with dogs, running, reading, and traveling. The thing I love most about Auburn is how easy it is to make new friends and get a great education

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, 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, blacksmithing, creating in general

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 educating 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

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.

Items to Bring to your Week of Service

Closed-Toe Shoes

Work Clothes

Work Gloves

Reusable Water Bottles


Personal Bag (small drawstring bag will do)

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 a 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 12:00 p.m. (Noon) so students must be settled into their accommodations by then.


No, participants are free to drive, but transportation will be provided for those without vehicles.
No, any incoming Honors College Freshman is eligible to apply.
Yes, we will work with you to ensure your needs are met.


Registration will open after the last Camp War Eagle session.  Be sure to check your Auburn email and the Honors College social media pages for the exact time and date.



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

Jessica Knezha

Jessica Knezha

I expect this week of service to be enlightening for the students about themselves and their community.
Hometown: Mobile, AL

Major: Software Engineering | Minor: Theater 

Interests/Hobbies: making movies, jewelry making, playing violin 

Hailee Walls

Hailee Walls

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

Hometown: Elkmont, Alabama

Majors: Agricultural Communication and Spanish | Minor: International Human Sciences

Interest/Hobbies: Working, reading nonfictional books on philosophy and psychology, writing, traveling


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, WI

Major: Biomedical Sciences

Minor: Community and Civic Engagement

Interest/Hobbies: serving, running, baking, and being outside

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, AL

Major: Electrical Engineering

Interests/Hobbies: Boating, Golf, Auburn Athletics

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! There's not a better way to start our school year.

Hometown: Hartselle, AL

Major: Exercise Science and Spanish

Interests/Hobbies: Running, cooking, reading, hiking with friends at Chewacla, playing with puppies at Lee County Humane Society

Mary Berkstresser

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. 

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: I enjoy playing with dogs, running, reading, and traveling in my spare time. But my favorite pastime is doing the super Weagle things, like getting lemonade at Toomer’s and sitting on Samford Lawn or shopping through the boutiques downtown with friends.


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, TN

Major: Pre-Business

Interests/Hobbies: Spending time volunteering at the local humane society and even fostering for them

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, AL

Major: Biomedical Sciences/Pre-Med

Interests/Hobbies: Service, music, and volleyball

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, FL

Majors: Political Science & Public Relations

Interests/Hobbies: Soccer

Alex Koda

Alex Koda

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

Hometown: Montgomery, Al

Major: Conservation and Biodiversity

Interests/Hobbies: karate, 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

Five K(no)w Poverty Volunteer posing


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

K(no)w Poverty 2014 graphic



Silhouette of Samford, Hargis, oaks, with tiger, eagle