March 20, 2019; Elyse Erdman
During the week of March 4-8, 2019, a group of nine students and one staff member from Appalachian State University volunteered here at Hope Springs Farm. Students had the opportunity to volunteer in various ways during their week, from working out in the pastures with the animals, to going on community outings with Growers. They also helped grow vegetables in the Greenhouse and assisted Growers with cooking and crafting activities. The farm grounds were snow-covered the entire week, but students braved the cold temperatures to make a difference in the conditions on the farm for our animals, Growers, and staff.
The Appalachian State volunteers got involved with this experience through the Appalachian and the Community Together (ACT) program at their University. The first week of March is the ACT’s international and domestic spring break program, including opportunities for students to volunteer at non-profits across the country and world. The program is referred to as an alternative service experience, or ASE. ASE programs are social issue-focused rather than destination based because they are more than just opportunities for student travel. This group of students viewed their week as an opportunity to learn about and experience the issues that confront people with disabilities. They wanted to explore the spheres that affect their daily life, as well as gain some hands-on experience by working alongside our Growers. The group of volunteers partnered with the Scholars with Diverse Abilities Program (SDAP) at Appalachian State, which is a program that helps enable everyone to have access to higher education, no matter what their ability.
Each ASE is led by peer leaders, who are undergraduate students, and one staff member serving as a learning partner. Kelsey Trevethan of Wilkes Barre, PA was the staff volunteer coordinator for this service trip. She was asked by student leaders Michala Penninger, Cat Peirce, and Germaine Horodyski to embark on this special volunteer experience. During her time as a student at Appalachian State, Trevethan volunteered often with individuals with disabilities, so she was excited to be asked to lead this trip. When asked what her personal goal of this volunteer experience was, she responded, “I want to learn what it means to be a Grower. And I learned that it means to have a community of people who care and support your growth as an adult with a disability.” Her favorite part of volunteering here was spending time watching the interactions between Growers and animals during the morning and afternoon animal care sessions.
Student volunteer, Gabby Lamb of Cary, North Carolina, said that this is her first volunteer experience to this capacity. She, along with several other volunteers in the group, were not very experienced with farm chores, but they were eager to do whatever work needed done by following instruction. During her week at the Farm, she enjoyed cleaning the horse and pig stalls, as well as organizing and helping in the office. “We’re doing things that may not have been getting done here otherwise. The staff’s first priority is the Growers, so cleaning can get forgotten,” she noted.
Hope Springs Farm is very grateful for every volunteer, whether an individual or member of a group. It means so much to us that a group of students traveled all the way from Boone, North Carolina and spent their Spring break helping the Farm keep up with all of its needs.