Service Trips Open New Worlds for Students

Posted on March 07, 2014

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Tyler Stobbe didn’t really know what to expect when he headed off to the North Carolina coast on a cold day early in the semester to serve at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center.

But was he ever excited when he came back.

“This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that we got to work and take care of these federally protected animals,” Stobbe, a senior from Conover, N.C., said. “This trip is definitely something I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

That kind of enthusiasm is a frequent result of programs offered by UNCG’s Office of Leadership and Service Learning. Students learn firsthand that service is something that can be undertaken by everyone, not left to other people.

“The OLSL service trip program grew out of Hurricane Katrina relief trips and expanded beyond the Gulf Coast to address a variety of social and environmental justice issues in our region,” said Joseph Frey, OLSL assistant director for community engagement. “As you can tell, such experiences provide powerful transformative service and leadership development opportunities for our students.”

While at the Topsail Beach facility, the students fed the turtles every morning, a big task because every turtle had its own personality, diet, likes and dislikes – and there were 50  to 60 on hand. Some turtles ate fish, others squid or crab, and one species got lettuce and Brussels sprouts. After they ate, the team cleaned the turtles, scrubbing their shells with brushes. “They loved that, it made them wiggle in the water,” Stobbe said.

The team cleaned their tanks inside and out, and mopped the floor of Sea Turtle Bay, the recovery area for healthier turtles. In Sea Turtle Sick Bay, where the turtles are not in good health, they fed and cleaned the turtles, and drained and refilled their tanks every day.

The novelty of eight strangers volunteering together to accomplish something bigger was a challenge. “Ultimately, it taught us to work as a team and was a success. I am very grateful that I was chosen to be a part of this service trip,” Stobbe said. “I would give up part of my semester break to do service at the hospital again in a heartbeat.”

Spring Break 2014, running March 9-15, has three trips scheduled. There also is an upcoming March weekend trip and an early summer trip in May. Each is relatively affordable, at $125 for the week-long experiences. About 65 students will take part in these five programs.

The Spring Break projects are:

The environment: Participants will serve at Claytor Lake State Park in Dublin, Va., as they help maintain and restore the park grounds. Projects may include fence building, tree planting, invasive plant removal, gardening and planting or fish habitat improvement.

Veterans: Students will give back to men and women who served our country overseas as they work with disabled combat veterans at Veterans Farm in Jacksonville, Fla. This fully accessible organic farm helps vets reintegrate into society through the assistance of horticulture therapy.

Animal Welfare: This group will work directly and indirectly with animals at an animal education center called Bear Path Acres  in Franklin, Va. Service will include feeding the animals, maintenance projects and more.

Reposted from UNCG News & Features
Story by Steve Gilliam, University Relations

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