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WVU Tech Service Week: Making the wild and wonderful a little more so

Students gather outside to plan their activities.

April 22-30 is WVU Tech Service week – a weeklong celebration of community engagement packed with ways for students to give back to the community.

One of those ways involves connecting students to environmental cleanup projects, and the week will see two such events.

The first project will be on Saturday, April 22. The Piney Creek Watershed Association is hosting a cleanup event in celebration of Earth Day.

“Piney Creek’s program will have volunteers from around the state coming in the clean the streets of Beckley. It’s going to be a huge event,” said Scotty Stone, an AmeriCorps VISTA and Widen, West Virginia native who organized WVU Tech Service Week.

David Stewart, executive director of the Piney Creek Watershed Association, said that project is a great way for students and volunteers to take ownership in the community.

“These projects are important in making Raleigh County a place where people want to visit and live. The bigger goal though is working to change the attitude of people in the community. We want to show everyone that we do care about our environment. We hope that people seeing members of the community out cleaning up will deter people from trashing the community in the first place and maybe encourage more people to volunteer in the community,” he said.  

For Stewart, volunteering is also an effective way for college-aged students to hone their communication and leadership skills while standing up for what matters to them.

“College students have a voice, and volunteering is a great way to meet community leaders. When students volunteer, they show what is important to the students. Community leaders listen. The student today is the leader of tomorrow – so get involved,” he said.

The second cleanup event will happen on Thursday, April 27. WVU Tech volunteers will team up with the Morris Creek Watershed Association in Montgomery.

The association covers more than seven square miles of watershed land and has been working to rehabilitate the region since 2002. Volunteers will clean up around the creek area and plant new trees critical to maintaining the health of the watershed.

“It is hard work,” said Stone, “but the trees really make an impact on both the environment and the general appeal of the creek.”