Type of Project: Service Learning and Community Service
1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.
I was a trip leader during the Summer 2017 Buck-I-Serv trip. During this Buck-I-Serv trip, me and seven other Ohio State students worked on environmental projects and learned about some Native Amercian history. We pulled privet and honeysuckle at a Sequoyah Museum, raked leaves and pulled poison ivy to make room for a pavilion, and dug trenches on a hiking trail to prevent floods during a rainstorm. During our free day, we went hiking at Laurel Falls and went white water rafting at Rapid Expeditions in Hartford, Tenessee.
2. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.
This trip opened my eyes and allowed me to see the beauty in nature. I saw how much of an impact humans have on the environment. I also saw the aftermath of the Gatlinburg fire and how much the earth was destroyed as a result of it. To see the trees and grass go from green to black was absolutely heartbreaking. This showed me how something starts out small, can lead end in something cataphoric.
This trip has also allowed me to conquer my fear of nature. I used to be scared of bees, bugs, poison ivy, dirt or anything that’s not sanitary. After a week of working alongside those things, I am no longer afraid of them. I started out the week by walking around poison ivy, to pulling them at the end of the week. This proved to me that I am able to conquer my fears by directly facing it.
3. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.
On the fifth day of my trip, my group and I drove roughly two hours to a hiking trail to dig flood trenches. During this walk up the trial, I saw where the Gatlinburg fires went through, and how much life was destroyed. We talked to the park ranger that came with us on the trail and he talked about how long it will take to recover from it. He mentioned it can take fifty years for life to grow back and look how it was supposed to be prior to the fires. I found it amazing how much park rangers are dedicated to nature, and it allowed me to see you can always find a job that involves something you’re passionate about.
On the second day of my trip, my group and I went to the Sequoyah Museum and removed privet and honey suckle from their property. I did not think that nature can kill nature. I learned that privet and honeysuckle vines are invasive plants from Europe and that they actually can kill trees. They do so by wrapping themselves around trees which prevents water from reaching the part it needs to in order to stay alive. This showed me that people need to take care of nature and keep it healthy by removing invasive plants.
Overall, this trip taught me to not be afraid of nature, how nature affects us and how we affect nature. The little things such as building trenches to prevent floods and pulling vines to keep trees alive can make a big impact in an environment.
4. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.
This trip was valuable to me because it was different than the stereotypical service trip. Most people link service trips to going to a retirement home, an animal shelter, etc. This trip also ended up being an all girl trip, and it was rewarding to see how much work my group and I accomplished when all the projects were labor intensive. It shows me that I can do anything, regarldess of my gender and size.