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Ronald Porter
Acting Director of Service Learning

Eckerd College
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Service Learning

Service Learning

Virginia: Spring Break 08


View photos from Virginia

The major projects that our group worked on were building fish habitat, clearing brush, building a trail across a beaver swamp, staining cabins (historical restoration), and landscaping. We also worked very closely with the Park Ranger staff. The group went to Staunton River State Park located Scottsburg Virginia. Scottsburg Virginia is a very rural area and it located in one of the poorest counties in Virginia.

The trip to Staunton River State Park in Scottsburg Virginia began with about a 14 hour van ride. During this time the group had a lot of time to bond and got to know one another. Early in the trip while still in Florida we were part of many vehicles that were parked on I-75 because of an overturned camper about a 1.5 miles ahead of our group. We arrived at the park at about 5:00am and found the cabins and called it a night. Everyone endured the long adventure and needed some sleep to get ready for the week of service.

As expected the first day of service began and it was a bit chilly and quite windy. We met the park rangers who we would be working with for the week and began the fun process of getting to know the people you are helping. The first project of the day was to help build fish habitat for a newly acquired pond at the park. We used old Christmas trees from the community and used metal wires to connect the trees and attached a few cinder blocks to each unit. Each unit contained about four trees and then each unit was placed in the pond. The next project was to build a different kind of fish habitat unit PVC pipe, concrete, and cinder blocks. These units were built with sections of the pipe inserted into the cinder blocks. After we finished that project we were off to another section of the newly acquired land and we began to clear a trail that went down a hill which led to a beaver swamp. The day continued with clearing of the trail and continuing to the beaver swamp as our goal for the week was to build a trail across the swamp and connect the trail to the other side of the park.

The next day included a full day of staining cabins and painting air conditioner pipes on the cabins that were originally built in the 1930's. During the day we stained just about two full cabins that overlooked the water and treated the group to a beautiful view while working all day. The third day the group was back out on the beaver swamp building a connecting trail. This day included moving rock and building up the trail to cross. This included shoveling, racking, and moving the rock with a vehicle know as a mule, which is very powerful and sturdy. We moved thousands of tons of rock as a smooth oiled machine. At the end of this day the group was very tired but felt like we were on our way to completing the first stage of the trail. The next day we had a chance to work with the park manager making the park look brand new. We worked on landscaping, we planted flowers, plants, and replanted some flowers and we mulched various areas in the park. It was part of a beautification project getting the park ready for their busy season. This was the coldest workday of the week and luckily it was only a half day as the park manager set up a special tour of the Staunton River Battlefield State Park. We went to the battlefield park and had a chance to see and hear about the civil war battle that was over a bridge. We had a chance to see the beautiful park and walked the grounds of where some of the battle took place.

The last day of the trip was used to complete all projects that we had begun earlier in the week. We had a chance to place all fish habitats that were built, we stained a third cabin and we completed the first stage of the trail across the beaver swamp. Overall it was a great week and the students had a great time. It was very rewarding seeing the work that was accomplished in such a short period of time. It was also nice as the students had a chance to learn about the environment from the park rangers and learn what it would take to become a park ranger. Staunton River State Park is a beautiful location and I would recommend it to anyone traveling to Virginia. It is a peaceful place and allows you to be one with nature.

View photos from Virginia

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