Wittenberg Students Impact The Environment Through Community Service Work At Tecumseh Land Trust
August 19, 2010
Filed in Headlines
Springfield, Ohio – Tecumseh Land Trust (TLT), the first accredited land trust in Ohio dedicated to preserving land in Clark and Greene counties and surrounding areas, was a natural fit for a pair of Wittenberg students to not only complete their community service graduation requirements but make a difference in the world through environmental conservation.
Wittenberg’s graduation requirement aims to provide students with “opportunities to serve, to connect with the greater Springfield community, and to reflect on the service experience to better understand themselves, community needs, and their responsibility in advancing the common good.” Samantha Swanton, class of 2012 from Saginaw, Mich., and Jason Bosley, class of 2010 from Westerville, Ohio, got all of that and more while working with TLT, which preserves agricultural land, natural areas, water resources and historic sites; educates the public about permanent land preservation; and supports the local food movement.
Both Swanton, a biology major with a double minor in marine and environmental science, and Bosley, a biology major and marine science minor, chose TLT because of a strong interest in the environment and conservation.
“My responsibilities included researching and drafting grants that the TLT qualified for, re-organizing their filing system, writing an article for their annual newsletter and helping with [the organization’s] biggest fundraiser of the year,” Swanton said. “The biggest and most inspiring interaction I had with the community was interviewing the Ebens, local farmers and conservationists. They gave us their perspective on land conservation and development. We also got to see a day in the life of the Ebens which was extremely eye-opening.”
Bosley said he felt that TLT was the most relevant service opportunity for him given his experiences and interests.
“I think it’s important that people are aware of the relationship we have with the land,” he said. “We helped write the annual newsletter, which allowed us to meet with community members and share their stories with the public. We also sent information to the community through mailers. Looking over grants was helpful for me, and I had never done any journalism writing or research.”
Both students said they improved or added new skills.
“I would have to say that my communication skills were enhanced by this experience,” Swanton said. “I had to interact with many adults from all different walks of life. It was an eye-opening experience of what is going on locally, concerning the environment.”
“We definitely became more comfortable working independently,” Bosley added. “We would be given a task, often a very important one, and would be expected to complete it. Throughout the entire experience we were very hands on.”
Bosley and Swanton completed their service feeling they had made a positive impact on the organization.
“I think I have helped the TLT in many ways,” Swanton said. “They had a lot of work that needed to be done but just couldn’t find the time or money to do it. I was glad to lend an extra hand to a non-profit organization that is critical to farmland preservation.”
“Sometimes just having an extra pair of hands was what they needed,” Bosley added. “Other times we were able to go out and work on some things that otherwise might not have been finished.”
Both students were inspired by the dedication of those working for the non-profit.
“When making money is the goal, many of the decisions reflect that agenda,” Bosley said. “Working for a non-profit gives you the freedom to explore different avenues, and they aren’t always going to be successful, but they do give you room to make mistakes and learn from them.”
Swanton agreed, adding that, “The members of the TLT definitely have a more genuine interest in their work, compared to for-profit organizations.”
Bosley graduated from Wittenberg in May, and he is headed to Florida Atlantic University, where he will pursue a Ph.D. in Marine Ecology.
Written By: Phyllis Eberts
Photo By: Erin Pence