#ShareTheBeauty: Taking Care of USM As A Community

This spring 2021 semester I took the opportunity to volunteer in a variety of organizations and events that ranged from directing runners in a half marathon to digging up weeds near the Walker Science Building. The majority of my service hours came from working with the USM Office of Sustainability which was a new experience for me.

It all started when one day I volunteered with Luckyday’s Adopt-A-Spot program and saw that I enjoyed working outside, so I started to look for volunteer activities that would allow me to explore more of the campus’s nature scenery. Through the Center For Community Engagement’s “Get Connected” website, I discovered several volunteer opportunities hosted by the Office of Sustainability. However, the first time that I worked with the Office of Sustainability actually took place inside the Jones Building on campus, and I had signed up for it because I saw that my schedule was free for that morning. In the Jones Building, I helped sort and hang clothes for the newly created Seymour’s Career Closet, which I thought was a really cool resource that the Office of Sustainability had formed for students to come and borrow secondhand clothes for a job interview or presentation during the semester.

Sarah Allen (in center) volunteering at Seymour’s Career Closet
– photo taken from @southernmiss_sustainability on Instagram

Another opportunity that I participated in was the Community and Teaching Garden Workshop/Cleanup that took place in the campus garden next to the Walker Science Building where I helped dig up weeds and organized the garden. During this time, I met some really cool student volunteers who were a part of the horticulture club at USM–which I didn’t even know had existed–and now I’m technically an honorary member of it. Hopefully, I will be able to participate in the club this upcoming fall. Also, I learned more about the Office of Sustainability as far as what they do and upcoming projects and ideas. I was even able to share my own thoughts and ideas about possibly expanding the bike rental program to allow any students to rent a bike for a day for their enjoyment as opposed to just allowing students who had to apply in the beginning of the semester to use it as a mode of transportation throughout the semester. This idea came about when fellow Luckyday Scholar Rob Brent and I wanted to ride bikes on campus with members of the VSA as part of the wellness challenge that we had adopted from the Luckyday’s annual wellness challenge, but we didn’t have enough bikes to carry out our plans for that day.

My last volunteer service was at the Campus Wide Cleanup for Commencement. It was really amazing to see the amount of people from all over the community come out and help clean up Southern Miss, which is essentially the heart of Hattiesburg. As I was picking up trash, I took the time to reflect on how beautiful this campus really is and how lucky that I am to be a part of this eagle family and the community of Hattiesburg. As a part of it, it is our responsibility to make changes and keep it beautiful and welcoming for all to stay or visit.

If you are looking for volunteer opportunities and a way to get connected with the Hattiesburg community, you can check out the Center for Community Engagement at https://www.usm.edu/community-engagement/. If you are looking to work with the Office of Sustainability at USM, you can follow their instagram page @southernmiss_sustainability to find out more information.

Blog post author Sarah Allen has completed her second year as a Luckyday Scholar. She is majoring in Kinesiology.

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