Castleton had it’s first Community Engagement Fair in about five years last Thursday and it was a great success.
The fair was in keeping with the University’s efforts to get students involved in the community. It’s clear that those efforts are paying off. Tables from a total of 39 organizations, topped with promotional materials, sign-up sheets and even cookies filled the Campus Center.
“What we wanted to do is bring these organizations on campus to connect with students and faculty, and they are exited about making that face-to-face connection. When we have our students go out in the community and volunteer and do internships a lot of times it’s done over the phone or over email, but this is one-on-one, face-to-face,” said Chrispin White, Director of the Robert T Stafford Center for Support & Study of Community.
White organized the event and was very happy with the outcome.
“Their energy is amazing. Everybody who is here from these organizations, they’re so excited to be invited to our campus to share in something like this and they’re networking with each other, which is really awesome,” he said.
The organization types varied widely, from the Rutland County Women’s Network and Shelter, to the Rutland Humane Society, to Nature Conservancy to PEG-TV. And they all had different needs.
Freddie Cannon, the Director of the Brandon Boys and Girls Club was looking for a theater arts major to help him put on a play. The Nature Conservancy was looking for someone to help them collect data from 40,000 trees in the Hubbardton area as part of a restoration project.
The one unifying factor among them was a friendly, casual and helpful vibe.
“I think the organizations appreciate it and I think our students really appreciate finding out from the organizations themselves what their needs are,” said White.
Heidi Lynch from Vermont Farmer’s Food Center was very happy to be a part of the event.
“I’m so glad Castleton is making more of a connection to community engagement. Just in my work it’s been really apparent, Castleton representatives are saying we’re volunteers or we want to get the students involved,” she said.
Senior Mill River student, and soon to be Castleton transfer student Amber Hoisington found many opportunities.
“There’s a lot of good set-ups. I signed up for one already and I have other forms to fill out for others,” said Hoisington.
There were more people from organizations than students or faculty and White said that wasn’t surprising given everything that’s happening during this time of year.
“My plan is to have this again in the Fall for returning students, and faculty to come and engage with the organizations. I want to do it a lot more,” he said.