GREENEVILLE – Completing a year of community-based learning, a group of Greene County leaders embraced an opportunity to perform service work on an additional trail everyone can enjoy on the Tusculum University campus.
These participants in Leadership Greene County, a program of the Greene County Partnership, also performed cleanup in the Paul E. Hayden Educational Wetland and the nearby creek, which lie on the outer edges of Tennessee’s first higher education institution. Their activities took much of the day Wednesday, July 21, and group members spoke highly of the opportunity to help Tusculum and serve the community.
Jessica Poore, a class participant and resource development director at the Boys and Girls Club of Greeneville and Greene County, said she had a lot of fun with this service project. She was pleased to support Tusculum, the alma mater of her husband.
“Tusculum does a lot for our community, especially the Boys and Girls Club,” she said. “The sports teams, when they are available, are always on hand to perform a sports clinic or to volunteer with our kids. The university’s students do a lot of academic tutoring, too. We hire a lot of Tusculum students at the Boys and Girls Club to work with kids and mentor kids. So giving back to Tusculum is an easy choice in our community. “
Poore said community service is important for anyone who works in a business or other organization.
“A golden standard in leadership is to show that you understand that leadership is about serving other people,” she said. “If we are truly a class of leaders or have learned leadership skills in this group, then the culmination of all that should be us being able to show how we serve others and encourage others to do that.”
The service project is a required component for the leadership class. Jennifer Wilder, leadership director at the partnership, said Dr. Jacob Fait, dean of the College of Business and executive director of the Center for Civic Advancement at Tusculum, suggested the work at Tusculum as a way this year’s group could fulfill that requirement. Dr. Fait is a member of this year’s leadership group.
“These members are all leaders in their own organizations and business, and we impress on them the importance of volunteering to help out the community,” Wilder said.
The vast majority of the service work took place on a new section of trail that runs from the Doak House Museum to the wetland. Dr. Peter Noll, associate professor of public history and museum studies, prepared for the group with some clearing of the area. The group then came in and raked English ivy out of the way, removed small trees and cut back limbs so the trail would be usable. Dr. Noll estimated group members cleared about a quarter of a mile of trail.
“They performed a substantial amount of work,” he said. “They completed about 85 percent of their work before lunch. They did a fantastic job.”
Work on the new section of trail began in September when Tusculum students participated in an annual day of service projects in honor of Nettie Fowler McCormick, an early benefactor of the university. More students conducted work in subsequent months. Plans are to build a bridge in that area during Nettie Day this year, which will make that section available for public use and connect to other trails on the campus.
Andrew Kerr, human resource specialist for the Town of Greeneville, said the leadership group’s service project taught him how important this type of activity is to the community’s quality of life. He referred to it as “a selfless act.”
“Anything that I can do to give back to the community is great, especially since I am a Tusculum alum,” said Kerr, who earned a master’s degree from the university in education, with a focus on human resource development. “Anything I can do here is fantastic. I enjoyed the time that I had here, and I would be more than happy to come out and do this again. Giving back to the community is rewarding. They give to you and you give back.”
Kerr encouraged people to apply to be a member of the leadership group, which changes every year. He said he has learned a lot about the community and the state and developed friendships with his classmates. Tusculum participates annually in this program, which contains a cross-section of the community, as a way to demonstrate its commitment to civic engagement, a key element of the university’s mission statement.
To learn more about the leadership program, please visit https://discovergreenevilletn.com/leadership-greene-county/. More information about the university is available at www.tusculum.edu.