Nature Sanctuary and
††††††††††† This year I have encountered many types of people and been a part of many different activities that taught me things about myself and the world around me.† Through experiences at the Parkville Nature Sanctuary and those dealing with Park University staff, doors were opened and there are things I had to do that pushed me outside of my well established comfort zone and forced me to do new things.† Through my service learning experiences, it was reiterated that learning can take place outside of the classroom, and outside experiences are what teach you the most about being a successful, contributing person in society.
The first day I drove half a block to the Nature Sanctuary, I did not know what to expect.† I was walking into this experience nearly blind.† A couple of days before, the caretaker of Parkville Nature Sanctuary had called me back and listed a few opportunities available in the near future.† As I pulled down the drive and walked toward the lady standing at the entrance to the trail, I was still unsure of what I would be doing that day.† After Mr. Reed arrived, we walked a few feet down to the creek.† Outfitted in waders, I was handed a small glass bottle to fill with river water so the oxygen content could be tested.†
††††††††††† After all the required testing was finished,
Louis walked me up to look at the old dormitory.† This day was the first that I had a good
glimpse of the former building that existed as a part of the
††††††††††† After I had left the Sanctuary that
morning, an opportunity to participate in a second service project, a memorial
garden on campus for the dormitory I saw that first day with Louis (Woodward
Dormitory), was brought up in honors class.†
When I had expressed my willingness to be a part of this project, the
first meeting was arranged with Jim Reed, Patti Urdang from the
††††††††††† This initial meeting was merely an opportunity for all of the parties involved to meet each other and get a perspective on the work that was going to be required to complete the task.† After the irises were located and parts of the walls that would later be utilized for the border of the garden were found, part of the group was given an official tour of the sanctuary.† The trail was followed all the way around to the waterfall, a beautiful spot where water cascaded down the side of the cliff to the rocks below.† It was truly a site of serenity and comfort for everyone present.
††††††††††† The second meeting regarding the garden was held with Alumni Director Julie McCollum.† This is the point in time when we saw the site we planned to use for the garden.† After brainstorming and discussing other possible additions to the garden, including a window, the group split for the day.
††††††††††† Meanwhile, I also continued my volunteering with Parkville Nature Sanctuary.† One evening, at the train station across the street, there was a meeting for volunteers to nail down details for the upcoming ghost stories night.† After an hour or two, the meeting concluded and I was chosen for a role as a haunter along the main trail.† Mr. Reed cordially thanked Carolyn and me for our time and we were on our way.
††††††††††† After compiling a portfolio for presentation to President Byers-Pevitts including many details about the garden and a plan for the future, a date was made for discussion and final fact checking.† The final meeting was rescheduled for November 17.
††††††††††† The weekend before Halloween, also Parent and Family Weekend at Park, was Ghost Stories Night at the Sanctuary.† A group of us spent all morning setting up and some returned that night, with others, to do the haunting.† The preparation began in the late morning, stringing artificial spider webs between trees and setting up skeletons along the trail for the people to view when the sun went down.† Around five o clock that evening, the helpers reported back to those same trails for an early dinner before guidelines were set for the evening.† As people began to gather and travel the trails, the haunters began a long night of work.† Person after person walked by, exploring the dark fruit cellar.† Some of them were happy to see me, and some were quick to inform me that I was not scary at all.† I did learn how to read people with ease and by the end of the night I could tell whether the person needed a smile or a joke or was just satisfied if I never said anything to them.†
††††††††††† In the end, all of the effort that
went into planning the details for the
††††††††††† I think that the memorial garden taught me a lot about process.† There is always a scripted form for everything that must be approved in some way or another and this was the first incident where I really was subjected to going through the step by step process.† When at first there is doubt, you just have to push through and compensate in other ways for the things that were not quite up to par.† The portfolio I created was also a new experience for me, as I had never had to put together a notebook documenting the different steps of a project I was working on for approval.†
††††††††††† I thoroughly believe service learning, in addition to the physical things it teaches you, is also very effective in teaching personality traits.† Patience, awareness, respect, rationality, adaptability, all these traits and many more were re-instilled in me as I went through the service learning.† I think that it is easier to learn these qualities in environments outside of the classroom due to the relaxed structure.† It is also easier to learn these qualities around people you do not know very well too, I believe.† There is no pressure for you to act a certain way or maintain an image to someone, but it is a time to concentrate on the tasks at hand.†
††††††††††† Before these recent service learning experiences began, benefits of community service and I were not strangers.† Through my high school career, I had been part of various organizations who praised similar things after volunteering for different locations or groups.† It is a fun way to connect students with the community around them and give them a sense of belonging- that they are needed in some way, somehow.† I think often, today, the younger generations are disregarded because of stereotypes which label us materialistic and conceited.† The service learning required for participation in the honors program proves the opposite.
††††††††††† I knew there were benefits going into this project.† I knew time sacrifices had to be made and there was a need to commit wholeheartedly to an organization.† Service learning can teach you content, like how to test oxygen levels in a stream, but is perhaps more successful in teaching traits that can affect a personís life; I know experiences this semester helped instill these values in me.