Engaging Green Recap – Fall ’23

The point in a service project is to help those around you or even just help beautify where you live. Although you are going into the service expecting to help someone or something, you come out helping yourself just as much. Take the time and do a good deed because I promise it will be worth it!

Gracie Morrow, U101 Engaging Green Student

As the Fall semester comes to a close, we want to reflect on our Engaging Green service initiative that launched this year, as well as share our excitement about the continuation of this project for next semester.

For an overview of the Engaging Green project, check out this awesome new official video from USC Upstate:

Special thank-you to USC Upstate Photographer Terry Manning for this video!

On Arbor Day last Friday, over 40 students, community members, and faculty braved the dreary weather to join Engage Upstate and SPACE at the Upper Chinquapin Greenway to celebrate the progress we made this semester. Luckily, the rain cleared up in time for us to enjoy s’mores, hot chocolate, and great company around a fire at the pavilion!

Photos via SPACE Land Manager Lynn Rhodes.

This Fall, we had 15 different service days at the Upper Chinquapin Greenway. 238 unique students served over 700 hours at the Greenway, with over 100 of our students serving more than once!

The students in our participating General Education courses took this opportunity to step out of their comfort zone and do something impactful.

A very special shout-out goes to all of our amazing participating instructors this semester who led their students by example! Even when they had their own concerns about working at the Greenway, be it poison ivy or spiders, our instructors flawlessly demonstrated to their students that they can do whatever they put their mind to.

It is the spirit of service work to not only learn from our leaders but to let our leaders learn from us, and the engagement between our students and instructors at the Greenway demonstrated this spirit wonderfully this semester.

That leads us to our next shoutout: The students! We could not have made such a massive impact in such a short amount of time at the Upper Chinquapin Greenway. We dream that in a few years, when the revitalization project is complete, these students can return to the welcoming and invigorating public greenway near our university with pride that they were there when the foundational efforts were laid.

Here is a quote from one of our participating students, Gracie Morrow:

I feel as if the most important connection between my course and my service is providing back for the county that I reside, work, and commute through. My participation in the project showed me that Spartanburg County cannot remain beautifully green without volunteers like the SPACE Organization. The two hours I spent in the woods showed me that there are people in Spartanburg that want to keep it beautiful and a nice place to be and they do not expect anything in return.

Finally, we want to thank the phenomenal team at SPACE for accommodating our students and enabling this program to exist, and for being wonderful teachers and teammates for us, our students, and our staff at the Greenway. Their love of the outdoors is infectious, and we hope our students will continue to support their mission of keeping Spartanburg wild long after this project comes to a close!

In the words of our very own U101 instructor and Advising Specialist Hannah Burress:

“I have loved being apart of this collaboration with SPACE. The boot camp over the summer couldn’t have prepared me for the joy that came from taking my students to the trail and seeing them THRIVE under the direction of Sam and Lynn. Students who haven’t really shown much interest in course content thus far were reinvigorated being outdoors and they were proud of themselves to have made such an impact with just 2 hours of service. It was fulfilling to be apart of and I know it will be a core memory for my students of their time here at Upstate.”

Hannah Burress – UNIV 101 Instructor

Looking to the Future

We are very excited to continue this project, with six unique General Education sections so far confirmed to participate in Engaging Green invasive cleanup removal for the Spring Semester.

Although we will be moving away from individual recap posts after every cleanup day, we will, as always, keep this blog updated with important Engaging Green updates as well as pictures of our students and the progress they make!

To look back at the recaps from this semester, find a complete list of links below:

Spring ’24 SLCE Class List

Article by Sam Reinhardt, ’23-24 AmeriCorps VISTA Member