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Undergrads volunteer via Campus-Community Connections

ENVS has always focused on ways to get students in the field, doing practical, hands-on work in addition to readings and theory. Undergraduates have the opportunity to participate in ELP, and to seek out an internship that gets them thinking about career paths. But ENVS goes above and beyond – all students that participate in the core course sequence (201, 202, and 203 – environmental social science, natural science, and humanities courses) are required to work a few hours with a community partner. Only a few hours for each student – but that time commitment adds up to a powerful, positive force for the community partners, with our five hundred enrolled majors.

Recently, the ENVS 202 classes have been donating their Saturday mornings in local parks, partnered with Nearby Nature. In Hendricks Park, the students removed ivy blanketing the forest floor, controlled ivy that had returned to previously pull sites, and performed seasonal trail maintenance. Despite the cool weather of the Pacific Northwest, 57 students piled on layers they didn’t mind getting dirty, pulled mounds of ivy, and swigged from their water bottles. One student, Elizabeth Baer, has this reflection to offer:

“I was able to experience a new part of Eugene and learn more about the native flora of the area. Before Monday I knew about Hendricks Park but I had never visited and didn’t know it was more like a nature reserve… the absence of playground equipment, wide expanses of lawn and the presence of native species of plants such as pine trees. It was not an area the city had excavated and replanted, but an area that was meant to be as it was hundreds of years ago. This did not include English Ivy.

I was unaware that English Ivy was an invasive species. I actually thought that it fit right in with all the other native plants. After pulling the ivy for a couple hours I now see how invasive a species it is. It creeps across all available ground leaving no space for wildflowers and other native species to flourish. And in order for Hendricks Park to look the way it was intended to many years ago a lot more volunteering needs to happen… I was happy to be a part of it.”