July 25, 2008

Geography Club earns praise for volunteerism

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Lincoln Memorial Picnic Grounds in Jonesboro will be beautiful for an upcoming celebration in September partly through the help of geography students at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Jennifer Sublett, assistant volunteer coordinator of the Mississippi Bluffs Ranger District of the Shawnee National Forest, recently praised students from the SIUC Geography Club for their volunteer activities both at the historic picnic grounds in Jonesboro and at the Little Grand Canyon site in Jackson County. She noted that the club, with its membership base in the Department of Geography and Environmental Resources, joined the volunteer roster in January 2007 and participates in trail maintenance in the spring and fall. In a Success Story report posted through the U.S. Forest Service, Sublett said the SIUC Geography Club’s volunteer efforts provided an educational opportunity.

“Some (students) had never participated in trail projects, but for others it was part of ongoing environmental stewardship work. Both experienced and inexperienced volunteers learned trail skills, made new friends and developed a connection to the land,” she said in her report.

Several of the students received awards from the University for their exceptional volunteer activities. Geography Club students who received Saluki Volunteer Corps and Environmental Ambassador Awards are: Joe Batir from Channahan, Karen Clauson from Orland Park, John Dyer from Edwardsville, Anita Eckhart from Decatur, and Leah Otten from Frankfort.

Otten organized volunteers from SIUC to assist local volunteers in the park clean up at the Lincoln Memorial Grounds. Volunteers cleaned debris, painted picnic tables and replanted a butterfly garden as part of the preparations for the Lincoln and Douglas Debate Sesquicentennial Celebration, scheduled for Sept. 12-14 in Jonesboro.

The Environmental Ambassador Awards require a minimum of 30 hours of community service during the project or campaign.

Paul Restivo, director of the SIUC Center for Environmental Health and Safety, said Environmental Ambassadors are “some of the best leaders at SIUC.”

Janel Spaulding, Geography Club president from Allyn, Wash., received the Registered Student Organization Officer Award for 2008. Personnel at the Shawnee National Forest nominated her for her leadership role in establishing the partnership between the SIUC Geography Club and the forest.

In addition, the Geography Club won the 2008 Delyte Morris Award for Excellence in Community Service.

“The club does a ton of volunteering and actually seldom submit their hours of service for any formal recognition of their volunteerism,” Restivo, who nominated the club for the Delyte Morris award, said. “Their tremendous level of volunteerism for positive environmental projects -- including efforts with Beautify Southern Illinois, the Shawnee National Forest, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers at Rend Lake -- made the club stand out head and shoulders above any other group I am aware of.”

To learn more about the SIUC Geography Club, visit the Department of Geography and Environmental Resources’ Web page at http://info.geography.siu.edu and follow the link to the club.