Cleanup Service Project in Zion National Park

Published: January 25, 2019 | Author: Rachelle Hughes | Read Time: 2 minutes

Student and faculty attending Zion Clean upStudents and faculty from Southern Utah University joined community members in Zion National Park Wednesday, January 23 to help clean trails as part of Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

SUU’s Outdoor Engagement Center (OEC) and Community Engagement Center organized a group of approximately 30 SUU and community volunteers to focus cleaning efforts on main routes and high traffic areas in the park following the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. The overwhelming response to the call for volunteers was immediate and quickly reached capacity.

“Interest in the event was unprecedented. We plan to reach out to those who were unable to participate (as well as those who did) and invite them to help with other upcoming service events,” said Pam Branin, associate director of SUU’s OEC. “I believe this is a reflection of the students here at SUU--who contribute over 200,000 hours of service annually--and the people in the surrounding community who truly do want to make our community and the area we live in a great place.”

SUU provided transportation for the students and met community volunteers at the park. With trash bags, gloves and directions, nine groups headed up trails spread from the lower to the upper canyon of Zion National Park to help keep one of their favorite backyard locations in pristine condition.

With nearly 20 national parks, monuments, and recreation areas within a five-hour drive, SUU takes its designation as the University of the Parks seriously. Briget Eastep, director of the SUU Outdoor Engagement Center points to this service project as one of many SUU projects that takes place in the surrounding parks during the year.

The service project aligns with SUU’s commitment to giving its students opportunities to gain experience and learn through service as part of its community engagement programs. 

“We had a diverse group of participants which included students and international students, a few had never been to Zion before; SUU employees; and community participants, some who brought their families. It was a great opportunity for a variety of people who were all interested in doing something positive to work side-by-side,”  Branin said.

Eastep encourages the community to continue to look for ways to make a difference.

"Beyond seeking organized events, people who care about parks and trails can make a difference on their own. First, practice Leave No Trace. Second, become an intentional trail steward and take a hike to pick up trash and clear debris from trails. Third, look for service projects across the region,” Eastep said.

The Dixie Mountain Bike Trails Association and Backcountry Horsemen offer regular service opportunities. On campus, the Intergovernmental Internship Cooperative’s Public Lands Employment Day will be on February 20 from 10-2 p.m. in the Sharwan Smith Student Center Ballroom. At this fair, you can find out about paid internship opportunities serving on public lands. In addition, the Community Engagement Center and Outdoor Engagement Center will continue to work with public land partners to create service opportunities to address ongoing service needs.

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