Campus Life

Utah State Revives Tradition of Volunteer Service with #AggiesInAction

Student volunteers with the USU chapter of Engineers Without Borders recently installed biosand filters that they developed for the specific water filtration needs of La Salitrera, Mexico.

For more than 100 years, the Utah State University community has gathered together for a day of service aimed at beautifying the Logan campus. They toted shovels while they laid pathways, installed benches and worked all day to clean up the university grounds.

Over time, this day of volunteering evolved into a seven-day celebration of USU traditions. This year, USU plans to get back to its roots by emphasizing service during A-Week, April 11-18, 2015.

“Aggies and service go hand-in-hand,” said David Clark, associate vice-president for the USU Alumni Association. “We have students who spend their spring break doing volunteer work, faculty helping students use the skills they learn through their course of study to improve people’s lives around the world and alumni leading humanitarian service trips to developing countries.”

In fact, the USU Service Center logged 21,955 volunteer hours by students during the 2013-14 academic year. USU will showcase these efforts during A-Week by encouraging its students and alumni to post photos of themselves engaged in volunteer service and including the hashtag #AggiesInAction.

“Utah State students have always been very service oriented, so as a result, our alumni have a history of giving back.” Clark said. “Whether it’s locally or internationally, Aggies can be seen making a difference.” 

Some highlights of Aggies serving at home and around the world:

  • In 2009, the USU chapter of Engineers Without Borders began working with the small community of La Salitrera, Mexico, to provide a clean dependable water source, and students have travelled there annually since then. In August of 2014, USU students installed biosand filters that they developed for the specific water filtration needs of La Salitrera. The Mexico Team is planning to return to the small community in the spring of 2015 to assess the effectiveness of the biosand filters.
  • Samantha Macfarlane, class of ‘97, took her studies in social work to a new level when she became the executive director of Common Ground Outdoor Adventures in 1999. Common Ground provides outdoor recreational opportunities for youth and adults with disabilities. Cache Valley locals will see Common Ground participants and volunteers skiing at Beaver Mountain in the winter and floating the state’s whitewater rivers in the summer. Under Samantha’s leadership, Common Ground has seen monumental growth in all areas and continues to be a tremendous asset to the community.
  • For USU Alumni Executive Board members Erik and Erika Mikkelsen, service is a way of life. While in college, the couple volunteered many hours to philanthropic service through the USU Service Center and student government. As alumni, they continue to volunteer their time to community organizations, as well as to the USU Alumni Association. They are celebrating USU’s A-Week with their own plans for serving others. On Thursday, April 16, they’ll pick up left over bagels from several shops across Salt Lake City, smear the bagels with cream cheese and deliver them to the homeless shelter. They are inviting other Aggies in SLC to join them.

A-Week also includes several community service projects organized by the Service Center, the prestigious Robins Awards, a service auction sponsored by Admissions to raise money for a local community member and True Aggie night.

A complete event listing is online.

Contact: Amanda DeRito, USU public relations specialist, 435-797-2759, amanda.derito@usu.edu

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