Students get out of the classroom, onto the campus during 'Service Day' clean-up

Lex Treinen/Sun Star Reporter
May 1, 2012

KSUA music director Brady Gross (left) clears the air with music and Springfest PSAs, Thursday April 26. Amelia Cooper/Sun Star

A dollar bill, two dozen brand new stainless steel washers, a door stop, a stitch remover, and about a half dozen socks. These were just a few of the trash items found at the trash pickup on Spring Fest Service Day on Friday. About 50 people – primarily students – volunteered by working on campus clean up, reorganizing the Facilities Greenhouse or cleaning up the leaves at the Georgeson Botanical Gardens.

Kelley Ryan, an elementary education junior, worked at the Service Day for her third straight year. This year, she was in charge of signing in volunteers, coordinating the volunteer efforts and handing out free water bottles to the volunteers.

“Service Day was created to give people something positive to do other than case day,” Ryan said. Ryan tried to make it easy to volunteer throughout the day, so people could work as long as they wished or were able, and were free to leave whenever they pleased.

Volunteers began trickling in around 9 a.m. Some signed up in advance to work in the gardens and greenhouse. There was a waiting list because capacity in the greenhouse was limited,  according to UAF Leadership Involvement & Volunteer Experience program coordinator Josh Hovis.

Trash collectors got the earliest start, and the continuing snow melt made for easy pickings. Taylor Cole, a freshman art student, was part of the pickup crew. After a half hour working around the dorms on lower campus, his bag was nearly half full. Aside from a sock and an undershirt, he said nothing out of the ordinary turned up.

Down at the greenhouse, the day’s task was cleaning out one of the greenhouse rooms. Five volunteers removed thousands of planters, sorted them and then put back them in the same room. Hovis headed the group.

“I’m bad with plants, so I saw this as an opportunity to grow,” he said. The area will incubate most of the plants that visitors will see this summer across campus.

Aside from dodging the loader that blindly swerved between them, the work was rather tedious, but the help was well appreciated.

“When we heard that they were going to help us out we were going ‘yahoo!’” said Paula Curtis, supervisor of the Facilities Greenhouse. The large crew of eager helpers cut a job that would have taken a few days down to only a few hours.

About a dozen volunteers, including several members of the women’s basketball team, raked leaves and shoveled dirt to prepare the Georgeson Botanical Garden for the coming months.

Having spent the morning training in the weight room, the women were tired after four hours of work. Jac Novata, one of the team’s captains, said she didn’t resent it.

“It’s important for the sports teams to do their part,” Novata said.

The help the volunteers offered was greatly appreciated, according to the garden staff, particularly since the garden is suffering from budget cuts. This summer the garden will have to trim its student workers from five down to one, according to research technician Katie DiCristina, who led the volunteer effort. Garden workers will also have to cut the variety trials, the various experimental plants and flowers the usually plant throughout the season.

The garden will rely more heavily on volunteers and grants for the summer. DiCristina was grateful to the Service Day organizers for contacting her about volunteering.

“The more people we have the faster. A lot of the stuff wouldn’t ever get done,” without the extra help, she said.

As the end of Service Day approached back at the Wood Center, Ryan and other volunteers from the LIVE office counted up the volunteer totals. The final count of 49 put the number about 10 people more than last year’s tally.

Editor’s Note: Full disclosure – Lex Treinen also participated in volunteer activities on Service Day.

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