Students enjoyed the great outdoors on a recent VI Community Engagement Project which involved working on a trail improvement project and a fun overnight getaway to a cabin at a nearby state park. The volunteer opportunity was arranged and led by Randy Smith, Instructor of Humanities, Education, Speech & Communication, in collaboration with Director of Student Activities & Community Engagement Crystal Ford.
On Friday, March 21, the group of seven participants loaded a rental vehicle and started the 45-minute road trip to Hungry Mother State Park in Marion, Va. On the way, Smith provided a quick tour through Saltville, Va., and discussed the history of the area before continuing on to the destination.
During the overnight volunteer experience, the group bonded over some fun activities: an owl-calling experience led by Smith, a painting project on the cabin wall to commemorate their presence along with past college volunteer groups, and a game of Apples to Apples, in which Smith won the round before calling it a night.
Everyone woke up early the next morning and loaded up for the day-long volunteer experience, using rakes to clear a mile of Stone Lick Trail, a mountainous area of Hungry Mother Park. Park officials were very pleased with the work completed by VI volunteers and commented that Stone Lick Trail had been in the worst shape of all the trails in the park prior to the group’s efforts.
Ford plans to partner again with Smith for future community engagement opportunities at Hungry Mother State Park. “This experience was a balance of fun, learning, and hard labor which made the overall opportunity worthwhile,” said Ford. “The students were glad that they signed up to participate, and seeing their joy during the laborious hours on the trail only justified their desire to serve communities in need. There was a sense of determination among the group to help make the trails usable and beautiful for the upcoming season.”
To learn more about Hungry Mother State Park, please visit http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/hungry-mother.shtml
To learn more about upcoming community engagement projects, please email Crystal Ford, Director of Student Activities & Community Engagement at firstname.lastname@example.org