College is an ideal time in life to seek out ways to grow personally as well as taking advantage of the variety of opportunities available and volunteering is a great way to develop oneself in this way. Volunteering and giving back to the community serves a greater purpose than being an asset on a resume or application, but rather it provides a unique feeling that stems from knowing that personally, you were able to make an impact.
There are multiple organizations on campus that focus on helping students find volunteer opportunities. One of these organizations is Miner Challenge. Over Spring Break, participating students are able to travel across the United States or internationally where they spend a week working as a team to improve an aspect of the community where they are located. Last spring, one team was able to travel to Audubon’s Zoo, Aquarium, and Nature Park in New Orleans to focus on wildlife conservation. The team’s advisor Dr. David Westenberg described that “the nature center was severely damaged by hurricane Katrina and was going to be left untouched. Instead, the community fought to reopen it, building new facilities and trails. Our job was to help with clearing and mulching trails and removing invasive species of trees. The zoo is a wonderful space for families and schools.” Miner challenge allows students to gain leadership experience while making an impact on different communities. Applications are currently open and will be closing on September 19th for the 2020 trip opportunities.
There are a variety of additional on campus opportunities. For example, the Second Saturday Service events occur on the second Saturday of each month. At these events, student involvement helps pair students with volunteer opportunities in the community. For the month of September, the Second Saturday Service event was scheduled for gardening with the Missouri Master Naturalists. Other events planned for this semester are with the Meramec Regional Planning Commission in October and the Rolla Animal Shelter in November. Interested students can register on Orgsync to get involved. In the fall semester, there is also the Celebration of Nations. Celebration of Nations is important to Missouri S&T because it allows students to honor the diverse cultures on campus and in Rolla. It takes a multitude of individuals to help run the event which means there are volunteer slots available for those looking to get involved in helping this event come together. To sign up, students can click the volunteer tab at nations.mst.edu.
While there are many opportunities on campus, there are other ways to be involved off campus as well. One unique volunteer program is Mentoring Makes a Difference. In this after school program, volunteers come to the middle school or elementary school once a week for an hour and are paired with a student. Time is spent helping an individual’s mentee with schoolwork as well as make connections with them. The coordinator of this program is Kathy Heflin and she stated that the mission of this program is to “enhance protective factors for the elementary and middle school students we serve. Our ultimate goal is to guide the students we work with in making good choices.” The Mentoring Makes a Difference program is currently looking for new mentors for both the middle and elementary schools. Anyone interested is encouraged to email Kathy at firstname.lastname@example.org. These are only a few of the many ways to get involved, making volunteer opportunities seemingly endless.