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Friday, August 22, 2014

New Students Serve Communities on Outreach Day

New Students Serve Communities on Outreach Day

Students Mathew Humes and Nicole Harshbarger bag litter as they clean up Bilger's Rocks, a massive 320 Million year old sand stone formation near Grampian, PA.

DuBOIS - As part of New Student Orientation, more than 150 freshmen, and over 30 faculty and staff group leaders participated in the Penn State DuBois Community Outreach Day on Friday. The day began in the campus gymnasium where students were broken into groups and assigned a service site. Each group was led by a campus faculty or staff member, as well as a student orientation leader, who then took students to their work site for the day. In all, the groups visited more than a dozen charitable and community-centered organizations. They performed landscaping, cleaning, litter pick up, and other duties in order to give back to their local communities around DuBois, Clearfield, Falls Creek, and beyond.

Sites visited included Bilger's Rocks in Grampian, Goodwill Industries in Falls Creek, Gateway Humane Society in Falls Creek, Central PA Community Action in Clearfield, Downtown DuBois Revitalization, the DuBois Historical Society, DuBois Nursing Home, the Freed Medical Clinic in DuBois, Paint and Play of DuBois, Rumbarger Cemetery in DuBois, the Bucktail Council of the Boy Scouts of America in DuBois, and the Tri County Church in DuBois, the Children's Aid Society, Highland View Healthcare, and Bethel Baptist Church.

At Bilger's Rocks, students performed litter pick up throughout the vast network of giant sand stone boulders, caverns and caves that make up this natural attraction near Grampian, PA. At 320 Million year old, hours can be spent exploring or walking along the trails at the geologically unique 272 acre site. It is open to everyone, free of charge. President of the Bilger's Rocks Association Terry O'Connor said he was very pleased to have the students pitch in to help keep the site looking good for tourists who visit it from miles away.

"People always advertise man-made things. This is natural. It's a natural wonder here in Central Pennsylvania. It's not a dam or a golf course, or anything man-made. So, it pulls people to our area, and we get people from all over the country, and even from other countries," O'Connor said. "It's so important to have volunteers. It's a tremendous help. We always need people."

O'Connor was happy to speak to students about the history of Bilger's Rocks before they got to work. His talk helped to inspire the students about the service they were doing.

"It feels good to come out and help," said Mathew Humes, an English Education major from Saegertown, PA. "It was great hearing him [O'Connor] talk about this place. It makes you want to get involved."

Nicole Harshbarger of St. Marys, a Human Development and Family Studies major, agreed. She said, "I had no idea this place was here before. I would think about getting more involved. I like the outdoors and any opportunity to give back. I do community service often. The community gives us so much, so it's good to give back to it."

Throughout the year, the non-profit Bilger's Rocks Association holds festivals, live music performances, a youth day, educational programs, and more.

Penn State DuBois Assistant Director of Student Affairs Marly Doty said she was happy to hear how students and organizational representatives felt about Community Outreach Day. She said instilling in students a passion for service, early on, can add meaning and value to their education, and even to their future careers.

"It's important that students engage in community service right off the bat. It teaches them about social responsibility and places where they can get involved," Doty said. "That blossoms into future projects, community service trips, and even jobs. They're making connections, meeting people, and giving back. It increases their odds for success and builds a stronger community all at the same time."

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