The EagleServe Has Landed — And Here’s What It Accomplished

John_GuffeyThe tradition of EagleServe — a two-day flurry of service-learning activity at Eagle Rock School — dates it’s origins all the way back to the school’s beginning over 20 years ago, and is born out of the belief that we become better people through service to others.

On the first Thursday and Friday of each trimester, students and staff gather to celebrate the gift of giving by serving the Eagle Rock community, society at large, and often the natural environment.

In keeping with the principles of service learning, EagleServe connects us with service projects that touch on real-world problem solving, where our efforts actually contribute to meeting the needs of others while bringing new knowledge and skills to participants through the process of serving others.

In this regard, ER 66 (the name we give to the 66th trimester since Eagle Rock was founded in September of 1993) has been no exception. The unstated, but ever present theme of “making connections” was evident from the opening gathering in our on-campus Learning Resource Center Amphitheater on Thursday, May 14, to the close of a busy Friday as project teams returned from far-flung flood recovery projects reaching up and down the Estes Valley.  And yes, our surrounding environment is still recovering from the “1,000-year flood” that descended on our community in September of 2013.

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The first highlight in this trimester’s EagleServe festivities was Robin Sukhadia’s Tabla Performance during Gathering on Thursday morning. As many know, Robin taught the Tabla class during numerous Explore Weeks in years past. Now he is a music teacher and full-time dad in Los Angeles. We met his talented baby, Kai, during gathering as well (both of them Skyped in on the big screen for the occasion).

From Gathering, we moved to the Esplanade for the annual Arbor Day celebration with the Town of Estes Park and the Poudre Canyon Power Authority, which donated a Toba Hawthorne tree that graces the pathway above the Lodge here on campus. Check it out next time you’re here.

The rest of the morning was spent refurbishing the paths and roads in our Living Village (home to Aspen, Pinon, Lodgepole, Spruce, Ponderosa, Juniper and Willow houses). After a hard winter of plowing snow, we needed to put the gravel that had been pushed into the grass and ditches back onto the roads. It was a lot of shoveling, raking and resetting stones, but many hands make light work.

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That afternoon the entire school focused on 11 leadership projects generated by students and staff. We split into teams and prepared action plans for the trimester so that the projects would find ongoing support and real action for success. As we move into the school term, it can be difficult to sustain interest in special projects. But you’d be surprised at how much we get done and how tenaciously people here hold to the idea of “making a difference!” That’s what EagleServe is all about.

On Friday, May 15, we joined with the Estes Valley Land Trust to do flood recovery work at three different conservation sites in and around Estes Park. These were all beautiful places where the natural vegetation and habitat along streams had been devastated by the 2013 flood. All told, we planted more than 1,000 trees including aspen, ponderosa, Douglas fir, cottonwood, willow and alder. We also planted wildflowers and native grasses and put down huge biodegradable mats that will help hold the topsoil and rebuild the damaged natural ecosystems.

We had 70 people working for a total of 500-plus hours on EagleServe projects and the results were stellar. Years from now, alums will look back and see that their service did, indeed, make a difference.

Stay tuned for the next installment of the EagleServe Saga coming out sometime after our next EagleServe in mid-September. Until then, keep serving!

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About The Author: John Guffey is the service learning instructional specialist at the Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center in Estes Park, Colo. There, Guffey is responsible for developing opportunities for service internships and community-based learning through courses. He also develops partnerships and special projects; creates permaculture and sustainability opportunities bridging school and local communities; and strengthens the significance of cooperative and community based service-learning and civic engagement.

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