This past Wednesday, Ohio University’s Center for Campus and Community Engagement hosted its annual Community Engagement Fair. Located on the driveway and lawn of 29 Park Place, students had the opportunity to walk around and learn about different community-oriented organizations.
Set up in a circular pattern amid a combination of gravel and grass, these establishments had posters and flyers filled with their information resting on tables, pinned down by desk toys to combat the slight breeze that was present.
One of these was an organization called Athens’ Arts, Parks and Recreation, responsible for overseeing all of the city's community centers, art facilities and parks.
“We have a lot of opportunities for the community to volunteer and engage in the events that we’re hosting,” Katherine Ann Jordan, director of Athens’ Arts, Parks and Recreation•, said. “We also have a lot of job opportunities and special events as well that students can become involved with.”
The department is responsible for events such as movie nights in the park and concerts over the summer. Even if students aren’t interested in becoming involved with the organization, Jordan encourages community members to visit and get some free music.
There was a wide range of students perusing the booths outside of 29 Park Place. Will Miller, a freshman studying media arts production, said he found one of the stands engaging.
“I just stopped by a stand about converting Athens into a more pedestrian area instead of keeping it so vehicle-centric,” Miller said. “They had AI reimaginings of Athens. It looked really interesting.”
Miller said he felt everything he had been introduced to was very accessible and so far he felt everyone had made their organizations easy to join, even though he is a freshman.
Emily Harasin, a junior studying chemistry,• said she also found luck during Wednesday's fair.
“I don’t have a lot of opportunities, because I don’t have a lot of time, to get involved with sustainability,” Harasin said.
However, she said she was excited to hear that some organizations offered spring break opportunities abroad which she said was a good fit for her and something she would certainly consider.
One of those organizations, Tenderfoot, a study away program for college students that focuses on applied learning in sustainability, sported a puzzle on their table booth that students stood and solved while learning about the volunteer opportunities they offer.
“Sustainability is relevant to every single discipline,” Lindsey Rudibaugh, co-founder and executive director of Tenderfoot, said. “It is increasingly important in the world we live in, to know how to be sustainable in our personal lives, but also in our work lives.”
Rudibaugh said she and her husband, who co-founded Tenderfoot with Rudibaugh, raised awareness for the organization through a hikeathon during which they hiked the entire 2,191 miles of the Appalachian Trail.
Harasin also said she enjoyed the opportunity to learn about new community initiatives and resources, such as Equitas Health, an organization that provides affordable health care. She said she was glad the fair introduced her to unfamiliar organizations.
“I think it’s really important that there’s free health care testing,” Harasin said. “I think that’s a really cool organization and I didn’t even know that was around here.”