Western Nevada College student leaders are inviting others to join them in helping to make this holiday season bright for local students in need. Two Giving Trees are decorated at WNC Carson City and Fallon campuses, and adorned with the wishes of at least 50 individuals in 15 families.In addition, the students are seeking donations of mittens, gloves and scarves for their Mitten Trees, as well as gently used coats, said Jacob Council, secretary for the Associated Students of Western Nevada. These items will assist Advocates to End Domestic Violence in Carson City and New Frontier in Fallon. Now, WNC faculty and staff members, as well as students and community members, can assist a student/family by taking a gift card from the Giving Trees, located in the Bristlecone Lobby on the Carson City campus and in Virgil Getto Hall on the Fallon campus. Each card contains a gift request that should be purchased and delivered unwrapped to ASWN offices by no later than Friday, Dec. 7.The students have planned a gift-wrapping afternoon on Dec. 7 to prepare all the gifts for distribution beginning on Dec. 10, “so families will have all week to stop by our office to pick them up,” Council said. Earlier this fall, ASWN raised $1,113 for Food for Thought in Carson City, and participated in a Holiday Food Drive in Fallon.Student Club Teams With Faculty, Local Artists for a Good Cause Western Nevada College’s new Douglas Campus Diversity Student Club is already making a difference in the community. The club, which only became official in October, raised $900 during an art show and silent auction Nov. 16 to benefit Austin’s House and WNC students. The student group surpassed its goal in its first fundraiser.“We exceeded our expectations with great support from the community,” said Sergio Arteaga, the club’s adviser and also the Douglas campus interim manager. “All of the students in our club came together and worked together for a good cause.”Community artists, including WNC instructors, donated their artwork for purchase at the fundraiser. Art by WNC students also was on display during the event, which attracted 70 people.Arteaga said his 15-member club had hoped to raise $600 in the first of two fundraisers planned for the 2012-13 school year, so the additional funds were a pleasant surprise. The fundraiser beneficiary, Austin’s House, provides emergency shelter and compassionate care for children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect.“The students saw it as something where a nonprofit organization gives back to the community, especially to children,” Arteaga said. “There are other important organizations, too, and hopefully we’ll get to all of them as the years go by.” Funds will also be used for future scholarships for WNC students, according to Arteaga. The club wants to provide two or three scholarships per year to cover students’ tuition for one class and one book.The Diversity Club hasn’t pinpointed a spring fundraiser, but Arteaga said, “The community should stay tuned for the next event. I hope to see everybody there to support WNC and the community and whatever future organization the students pick.” To learn more, contact Arteaga at 775-782-2413.Weekend ‘Wintermester’ Biology Class Accelerates LearningAn accelerated biology course being offered by Western Nevada College on weekends over the winter break should help those seeking a health-related career.Dr. Steve Carman, a WNC biophysical sciences professor, will devote his weekends to teach Biology 251, a four-credit class that covers bacteria, viruses, fungi and disease-causing microbes, as well as lab instruction. It will meet Dec. 15-16, Dec. 22-23, Dec. 29-30, Jan. 5-6 and Jan. 12-13.Carman said the offering fits with WNC’s commitment to think outside the box with teaching ideas that will benefit students. “I like looking for different ways of improving student learning, and moving students along at the speed of life,” Carman said. The class is a prerequisite for nursing students at WNC, as well as those transferring into other nursing programs in Nevada. Carman said immersing students with a large amount of information in a short period of time has been proven effective. “Statistically, students in accelerated courses show no difference in final course grades. However, some student grades are much higher, as is the course completion rate.”He said WNC’s biology faculty has placed an emphasis on reducing the number of students who must repeat classes. This class format should help students expedite the learning process and pass a required course. “I hear from students that taking an accelerated courses is as close as they can get to the intensity and workload they get in nursing school without actually being in nursing school,” Carman said. Register at wnc.edu.