COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita were not just limited to people. The storms also took a toll on wildlife, the environment and agricultural industries, and an Ohio State University special interest group is journeying to southern Louisiana to help breath life back into the region.
Collegiate Young Farmers, a student organization supported by the Ohio Farm Bureau, is leading a hurricane relief effort Dec. 11-18 to Mandeville, La. The purpose of the project is to aid those individuals impacted by the hurricanes through agriculture-related service activities. By doing so, the area's natural beauty and its food industries are also restored.
"The relief effort targets those people impacted by the events of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita, while building leadership skills and demonstrating compassion for our fellow citizens," said Matthew McVey, project coordinator.
Members of Collegiate Young Farmers participate in educational programs, community service projects and leadership development while striving to promote diversity in agriculture. They also work with other organizations on Ohio State's campus in developing activities of mutual interest.
"One thing we hope that will come out of the relief effort is that students learn about the horrific devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita through personal experience of being there. I think that this is an amazing opportunity for our students to get up close and personal with probably the largest natural disaster to ever impact our nation," said Dennis Hall, Collegiate Young Farmers advisor and special assistant to the dean of Ohio State's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. "This experience could be valuable in the future should these students ever find themselves in a tragic environment."
Participates will be involved in a variety of community service projects, including restoring the New Orleans Botanical Garden, cleaning New Orleans City Park, assisting in harvesting citrus fruit, restoring the fishing industry through dock and hatchery repairs, and cleaning up southern Louisiana's coastline.
"We selected many of our potential projects on the basis of need, importance, and feasibility. For example, repairing fisheries will help re-establish the fishing industry so people have jobs and food," said McVey. "Human needs are being met first, such as restoring industry and foodstuffs, and then we are spending some time on alternative projects, such as helping restore botanical gardens."
Individuals are invited to participate in the hurricane relief trip to southern Louisiana. The cost is $60 and an additional $80 sponsorship from family members, clubs or organizations. The $140 fee covers all costs, with additional funding from Collegiate Young Farmers, Council of Student Affairs and other sources. Individuals can also sponsor those making the trip.
"We hope that we can provide students an opportunity to perform a service to a people in need and through that service gain life long skills in leadership and teamwork," said McVey. "We hope participants and sponsors can appreciate the value of helping fellow Americans in need. Most of all, we hope they can see our trip as capable of making a difference."
For more information on the hurricane relief effort, to join the project, or to sponsor a participant, contact Matthew McVey at (304) 482-2640, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on Collegiate Young Farmers, contact Dennis Hall at (614) 292-4188 or e-mail email@example.com.