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Service learning is an important part of Olivet College’s identity, and a variety of service trips and service days are hosted each semester. Recently, health and safety guidelines made it difficult for service trips to take place, but with careful planning and determination, Olivet College hosted the first service trip in 14 months from April 30 to May 7. This trip was to Port Austin, a coastal town located on Lake Huron.

Four students attended the trip — DJ Vore, Amanda Ray, Taylor Moore and Taylor Norton — along with Jacob Richards, community service coordinator, Judy Fales, director of Burrage Library, and Professor Mike Fales, director of service learning and campus ministries.

On the service trip, student volunteers worked mainly with the Port Austin Historical Society. They performed trail maintenance, raked leaves, weeded a historical weaver’s garden and helped clean out the log cabins and historical buildings. They also spent one day at a butterfly garden, helping prepare it for summer, and one day at a local food bank.

The students on the trip enjoyed volunteering for a community in need and also had fun creating memories and exploring new places. DJ, a media production and communication major, said the trip was very relaxing and gave him a break after the end of classes. “I was mentally and physically drained … I knew giving back to the people of Port Austin and the amazing views would help ground my mind.” DJ has been on other service trips to Port Austin and is pleased to make serving the community a tradition.

In addition to helping these communities, service trips also provide many benefits for the students who go on them. “The main purpose of service trips is going and providing the help people need. Beyond that, however, service trips are a great opportunity for students to grow,” Richards said. “You meet new friends. You have new experiences.”

DJ said that one of his main reasons for going on this and other service trips was the bonds and relationships built between the students attending and the people they are helping. “I enjoy giving back to the communities. The experience you have while attending is more than volunteer hours.”

The service trips, which are open to all Olivet students, also give students the chance to travel to places they might not otherwise visit. For weekend trips, almost all the expenses are covered, which makes them more accessible for all students.

Both DJ and Richards recommend that other students consider going on service trips. Richards said, “I highly recommend that every student at Olivet attends one service trip so they can have that experience — it’s a really beautiful experience.”

DJ added, “I have plans to attend as many service trips as I can. Mike Fales and Jacob Richards are amazing people and they help us donate our time where it’s needed.”

Next fall, Richards is planning to host weekend trips each month throughout the semester. Olivet College also hosts longer trips during school breaks and at the end of semesters. These trips often go out of state and, occasionally, to other countries. For more information on upcoming service trips, students can contact Jacob Richards at JRichards@olivetcollege.edu.

For more information about Olivet College, contact the Office of Admission at 800-456-7189 or admissions@olivetcollege.edu.

This feature was written by Bray Wright, marketing and communications student intern. She is an English major and writing minor, a scholarship winner of the Global Citizen Honors Program and a staff member of the Garfield Lake Review. A self-proclaimed storyteller, she plans on going into the publishing industry after college.

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