HAYWOOD COMMUNITY COLLEGE

185 FREEDLANDER DRIVE

CLYDE, NORTH CAROLINA 28721

CONTACT: DEBBIE DAVIS

DIANA CONARD

PHONE: 627-4521

DATE: 04-09-03

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

HCC STUDENTS FORM A SERVICE LEARNING INITIATIVE TO HELP CLEAN UP NATIONAL PARK

Two Haywood Community College Forest Management Technology students are leading others into service learning that will make a difference to many people. Robert Edwards and Jay Moose spent a week in December volunteering in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) and walked away with a valuable learning experience that neither of them will ever forget.

From this week of service learning, Edwards formed an initiative with Moose and eight other Natural Resources students to attend a workshop at the Sugarlands Visitor’s Center in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The other HCC students involved are: Michael Amato, Terri Bentley, William Crow, Vincent Gregory, Jason Hall, Meleah Lunsford, Jennifer Quinn, and Frank Varvoutis. The workshop certified them as team leaders for the Adpot-A-Trail and Adopt-A-Campsite Programs. After this training, the students hope to form a HCC campus-wide group to volunteer in the park with planned Saturday workdays.

At the workshop, the HCC students learned how to supervise trail restoration. They were taught the Park’s Leave No Trace outdoors skills and ethics procedures. The philosophy is to teach people to leave an area exactly as they found it, in its natural state.

According to Babette Collavo, Volunteer Coordinator for GSMNP, "Leave No Trace is a way we can do our part in preserving and protecting our public lands for our enjoyment and for future generations."

HCC students learned to clear windfalls, clean water bars and drains, and to fill in request forms for work to be done by trail crews. Students will also maintain fire rings, remove ashes, and most importantly, serve as stewards by educating users and spreading the message to others.

The Adopt-A-Campsite Program was implemented in 1997 as a vital component of the Park’s strategic plan for management of the backcountry. Through the program, volunteers care for 90 campsites. They are asked to visit the campsites assigned to them eight times a year, particularly the busiest months of March through October.

Collavo says that 1600 volunteers donated 89,000 hours of service last year. "Volunteers fill a void and do what wouldn’t get done otherwise, things that personnel and budget constraints won’t allow."

Edwards says, "This is a way for HCC students to show we care, a way of saying thank you that we have the parks to use. Participation is rewarding."

Collavo hopes the efforts of HCC students will get the ball rolling in North Carolina. "GSMNP is the largest park in the southeast region. This is a great opportunity to enable participants to know their parks inside and out," Collavo explains.

Edwards and Moose also volunteer their time in other parts of the park, most recently in the Cataloochee Valley. They scour the area for the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid, an insect that destroys hemlocks, and ultimately alters the ecosystem. When the Adelgid is found, the students use a GPS unit to map the area and report it to the park service for follow up treatment.

Students in HCC’s Natural Resources programs have many service learning opportunities, such as the Big Sweep River Cleanup and the Clean Streams Day. For more information about these opportunities or the HCC Natural Resources Division, please call 627-4500.

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