On October 24, Conestoga’s Student Engagement and Security Services teams hosted Community Action Day. The event invites students to volunteer at a local non-profit for a full-day during their week-long study break - something they may not have time for while classes are in session.
Conestoga students (L-R) Jin Young, Simran Kaur, Navjot Singh and Nikhil Padigela participated in Community Action Day at rare Charitable Research Reserve, helping remove non-native species.
This year, student volunteers worked in support of rare Charitable Research Reserve in Cambridge, an urban land trust dedicated to conservation, research and education, where they helped the land management team remove non-native species including periwinkle, lily of the valley and day lilies.
“We rely heavily on our volunteers,” said rare’s conservation technician Alissa Fraser. “With 900 acres of land to cover, we really depend on this volunteer work. Our community gardens are also volunteer driven - this year we produced 8,000 pounds of fresh produce that was directed to local food banks.”
In 2017, more than 260 volunteers lent over 5,000 hours of time to support rare.
Despite the cooler temperatures volunteers faced, Simran Kaur, a first-year student in the Applied Network Infrastructure & Systems Administration program, said the time outdoors at the reserve was a welcome break.
“I wanted to do something beyond the IT field,” said Kaur. “It’s easy to get bored sitting behind a laptop and screens all the time.”
Nikhil Padigela, a Web Design & Development student, had similar feelings saying he’s typically surrounded by the four walls of a room while in class and during his study time, and was happy to get outdoors for a change. He has volunteered with the International Office in the past and wanted to take advantage of Community Action Day to learn new things.
For Navjot Singh and Jin Young, the motivation was a little different. Singh left India to begin his academic journey at Conestoga in September and welcomed the opportunity to return to gardening -- at home he tended to a garden filled with pumpkin, mango, guava, coriander and mint and misses the activity now that he’s living in an apartment.
Young said she’d never had an experience in nature like this, and with three boys at home, was interested in learning new things to teach them.
Other Community Action Day events have supported Community Support Connections, The Working Centre and House of Friendship.
“I would like to thank the students who took time out of their busy schedules to volunteer with rare and learn about important work that takes place in the local community," said Student Engagement programmer Jennifer Durst. "It is wonderful to see such interest and strong participation in this initiative. I would also like to thank Security Services for being such an active supporter of this and other Student Engagement activities that help contribute to a culture of respect here on campus.”
Conestoga’s Student Engagement team meets the needs of students through innovative programming designed to achieve goals with learning outcomes-based initiatives including the Co-Curricular Record, Orientation, the Respect Campaign, the Connect Leadership Workshop Series, Campus Service Learning, and various student volunteer and committee opportunities.
Conestoga’s Security Services team works with the college community to provide a safe and secure work and learning environment, promote partnerships with the college community and local organizations and enhance personal safety through prevention, education and compliance.