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Archives for April 2017

Pizza with Patriots Service Learning Project by Jessica Woods

 

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Few know that UCA has a long military history, but take a walk on campus and you will soon see how UCA has chosen to honor their fallen. Oak trees lining the sidewalks serve as living reminders of those World War II veterans and alumni of UCA who came before us and made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Additionally, the school has erected war memorials outside McAlister Hall that lists and honors all fallen veterans who were alumni of the university, and a wiki memorial page has been created to provide more information for these veterans. Yet even after all the work that has been put in to remember these servicemen and women, many students walk by these memorials without recognizing their significance.

This semester in Donna’s Core II class, we focused on what we can do as students to raise awareness and support for these memorials and the veterans who are part of our community on campus. We split into three groups: an event group tasked with organizing an event to support UCA veterans, a communications group to spread the word about these memorials, and a research group that focused on sharing the stories of these veterans by creating web pages for them by expanding the memorial wiki page.

The event group’s work culminated in a gathering called “Pizza with Patriots.” Students were able to connect with veterans in their community as they shared how the time they spent in the military has shaped them. Furthermore, Pizza with Patriots provided for the release of information about a scholarship opportunity starting next fall. The communications group worked to establish a $300 essay contest challenging contestants to research and write about the veterans in which these memorials are dedicated. In doing so, they created a legacy to increase awareness about the memorials on UCA’s campus. Lastly, the research group conducted genealogy research to find photos and information to help bring the names of the men and women etched on the war memorials to life. We were able to expand the UCA War Memorial web page to include information about virtually every single fallen veteran honored on the war memorial.

I was a part of something this semester that has created a lasting impact on my community. The work my class did has brought people together and shared stories that deserve to be heard. Be looking for more information about the essay contest next semester, and if you want to learn more about the stories of these fallen heroes please visit the UCA War Memorial web page at https://honors.uca.edu/memorial/index.php/Main_Page

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Hark for Haiti by Elle Johnson

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What can you get for $1? A Snickers bar? Maybe at Wal-Mart, but definitely not at the Kum & Go. What if I told you that with just $1 you could supply deworming medication to a child in Haiti for six months? Or twenty-five days of public health education for a student? Or a tree could be planted and cared for by Haitian student? Or a day of education and instruction for approximately 30 students? All of those ways to spend $1 make a Snickers seem pretty… unsatisfying.

Hopefully right now, you’re smirking at my witty Snickers slogan reference, and ready to hear more about Haiti. In Doug Corbitt’s Core II class, we have thoroughly discussed the reality of life in Haiti. The country has very little access to clean drinking water, the government is corrupt and laws are not justly enforced, and there is a widening societal gap as the poor become poorer and the rich elite continue to prey upon them. Our class wrote our research term papers over institutions that we think need to go through a reform in Haiti. Learning about the past and present of Haiti and the everyday struggles that Haitians endure ignited a passion in our class to help Haiti and it was the spark that kept us powering through our service learning project.

“Hark for Haiti” was a benefit concert that we hosted to raise donations to the non-profit organization, Hope for Haiti. Hope for Haiti’s mission statement is “We work to improve the quality of life for the Haitian people, particularly children.” To help support this mission, we spent several class meetings brainstorming ideas for our event and delegating tasks to ensure that Hark for Haiti would be a success. To bring in more funds, we decided to host a silent auction that ran parallel with the concert. Local businesses, restaurants, and individuals donated items to be auctioned off. The UCA Choir and many members of the music department, both staff and students, agreed to be a part of the concert. The performers were magnificent and a couple original pieces were composed for the event. Hark for Haiti turned out better than any of us had expected.

Freshmen college students, for the most part, have very little event planning experience. Hark for Haiti was an intimidating idea at first and even leading up to the event, a variety of fears hung in the air. Learning to trust and rely on others to complete tasks was hard; however, none of us could have accomplished this alone. We all had to contribute to the group’s goals and be in sync with each other to keep the ball rolling. There were many doubts and concerns as we moved through the planning process, but Saturday, April 8th turned out to be a great day. Hark for Haiti raised $522.70 for the Hope for Haiti foundation and was a great time for everyone involved.

2017 Dragonfly BioBlitz by Alexis Bibbs

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When I learned that my Junior Seminar classmates and I were to participate in a service learning project that involved both camping and the collection of dragonfly larvae, I have to say I was a little apprehensive. After all, I am not a biology major, I have little knowledge of ecology, and I am definitely not a camper. While the majority of my classmates buzzed with excitement and wondered what all adventures our weekend trip to the Steel Creek Research Station at Buffalo National River would entail, I asked myself “Can I do this?” I questioned not only my ability to spend the night outdoors but whether or not I would actually be able to contribute to the success of the project we were working on. Despite my worries, I chose to go on the trip after receiving encouragement from classmates and family.

​As we made the two and a half hour drive up to Ponca, I told myself “You’ve got this.” When we arrived at the Research Station, almost all of my worries about the camping aspect of the trip were calmed. We were not, in fact, going to be “roughing it” in the forest. Steel Creek Research Station turned out to be an adorable stone house where we were to prepare meals and hold class. Outside an NPS tent was already pitched on top of a raised wooden pallet with clean cots arranged inside. Together, we made a dinner of sautéed vegetables and ramen noodles and our host for the weekend, Ranger Faron Usery, brought us the most delicious beans and cornbread.

After our meal, we all gathered in the living room turned classroom of the house to learn about the project and prepare for the following day of collecting dragonfly larvae. Cameron Cheri, a University of Arkansas graduate student studying biology and member of the Conservation Corps, explained to us the purpose of the research and taught us how to identify different species of larvae. The fancy tent and yummy food had calmed my nerves, but learning that I was going to be scooping dragonfly larvae out of an old mill pond brought those same feelings of nervousness right back up. As my classmates looked with enthusiasm and anticipation at the different species of dragonflies and damselflies, the same question creeped back into my mind, “Can I do this?”
​The next morning we packed our daypacks and split into teams. Each team was to collect larvae from a different section of Boxley Mill Pond, the site of our collection.

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Within each team, there were to be two people collecting larvae out of canoes and the rest of the group was to collect larvae from the banks. I tried to force my way into one of the canoes, yet somehow ended up the one member in chest waders. With my new gear on, my group and I made our way to our marshy section of the pond. Armed with borrowed work boots and a noble sense of bravery, I sank myself knee deep into the mud and began scooping up little dragonfly and damselfly larvae up from the banks.

I never thought I would say this, but being knee deep in the mud while pulling bugs out of a pond was actually one of the most interesting and fun things I have done in my Honors experience thus far. I loved the challenge of finding the perfect place on the bank to scoop up samples and I was having fun catching tadpoles, fish, and anything but the larvae I was supposed to be collecting. When we took our samples back to the researchers, we used tweezers to help pick the larvae out of all the mud we had scooped up.

By the end of the day, we were all able to identify little dragonflies and damselflies with little help from the rsearchers. Together, our class must have collected dozens and dozens of larvae. Cameron with even informed us at the end of the day that our class had collected two species he had never before seen in the pond. It was the greatest feeling to know that we had helped work on a project that not only helped the researchers but the National Park Service and the rangers at Buffalo National River as well. Although I came into the project with feelings of apprehension, I left with a new confidence in my ability to go outside of my comfort zone and participate in new activities.

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