Students admitted to East Carolina University’s Honors College will begin classes this fall, but they began a commitment to service July 16 as volunteers at Umstead State Park in Raleigh. They raked fire lanes, closed social trails, collected litter, and assisted park rangers to improve the experience for the park’s 1.7 million annual visitors. Umstead has the highest visitation figure for North Carolina state parks although cared for by a small staff.
Umstead State Park in Raleigh is situated off interstate highways and near the RDU airport. It is a sylvan retreat in the state capital. With campsites and several man-made lakes for boating and fishing, Umstead is a testament to the economic recovery efforts to address the Great Depression following the stock market crash in 1929. The park was a Works Progress Administration (WPA) and Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) project. It provided jobs when there were few to be had.
Students worked in teams under the guidance of veteran Park Ranger Billy Hartness, the recent father of twins. He remarked that he rarely had volunteers who showed up in such numbers— 41 students, plus 5 staff. He was also impressed with their enthusiasm for work. The tasks were finished in less time than expected.
The ECU Honors College values public service as principal component of its mission, embodied in the ECU Latin motto, Servire—to serve.
And there was levity! Students held a skit competition that had everyone in stitches. The day concluded with a picnic of pizza provided by Mellow Mushroom in Cary. Owner Robert Greczyn, a former ECU trustee and board chair, provided the pizza with the assistance of Will Greczyn. Honors College dean Marianna Walker welcomed Honors College Advancement Council member Laura Brinn and her family, who supported the event.