From Jan. 17-26, State Fair Community College Dental Hygiene students and faculty participated in an international service learning opportunity in Guatemala, a Central American country.

Senior Dental Hygiene students Lauren Dunham (Warrensburg), Emily Biswell (Columbia), Naomi Prather (Columbia), and junior student Destyni Speidel (Lincoln) along with Dr. Andra Ferguson, SFCC’s Dental Hygiene program director and Linda Hoffman, adjunct faculty, participated and performed dental hygiene services in the cities of Cantel and Quetzaltenango. The students and faculty raised their own funds for the trip.

"I feel honored to have been a part of a team who demonstrated such caring and dedication to the profession of dental hygiene and service to people in need" said Dr. Ferguson. “This was a great learning experience for our students and an opportunity to put their skills to work to help others in a different culture.”

The SFCC team joined leader Dr. Karen Rethmeyer, several area practicing dentists and dental students from University of Missouri-Kansas City in providing oral health education and dental care. Dr. Gary Groff, SFCC Dental Hygiene Advisory Board member, was instrumental in coordinating this opportunity for learning and service for SFCC students and faculty.

People in Guatemala have limited access to dental care. Over half of the population is under the age of 20. Dental health issues for this country include tooth decay, mouth abscesses, poor dental hygiene, periodontal disease, tooth loss, and lack of understanding dental disease progression. Poor food choices, water quality, lack of access to dental products, and lack of professional dental care are additional obstacles to the Guatemalans’ oral health.

To learn more about SFCC’s Dental Hygiene program and available clinic services to the public, go to or call (660) 596-7309.


In the photos: State Fair Community College Dental Hygiene students and faculty participated in a service learning opportunity in Guatemala in January.  First row from left, Lauren Dunham, Naomi Prather, Emily Biswell; second row, Destyni Spiedel, Dr. Andra Ferguson, Linda Hoffmann.

SFCC Dental Hygiene students and faculty provided dental services to Guatemalans during a January service-learning event. Dental Hygiene Director, Dr. Andra Ferguson looks on as students Destyni Spiedel (left) and Emily Biswell work with a patient.


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