NASHVILLE (TSU News Service) – Loréal Spear did not choose Environmental Engineering as a major at Tennessee State University by accident.
“I just love preserving the natural esthetics of the environment,” said the graduate student from Nashville.
Building on the “Think, Work, Serve” mantra, Spear said her interest also allows her to serve as a way of giving back to the community and helping to improve the environment in and around her hometown.
“I have actively participated in TSU’s Service Day and Hands On Nashville service events throughout my undergraduate and graduate career,” she said.
So, it came as no surprise on Saturday, March 23, when Spear joined nearly 200 TSU students, faculty and staff in a day of service as they worked to restore the natural habitats of the community.
The event was part of the Go Green North Nashville program and Hands On Nashville, where volunteers spread out into the surrounding community areas and took part in “Diggin’ It,” a day devoted to planting and rejuvenation.
Dr. Linda Guthrie, acting director of the Center for Service Learning, said the annual spring volunteer day is important not only for TSU, but also to the community that surrounds the University.
“Our community is close-kit and caring,” said Guthrie in an earlier statement. “We try to teach our students to look unselfishly beyond themselves, and to reach out to others and the world. The North Nashville area has supported the University from the beginning. We want to build lasting connections with our neighbors, and aid in the restoration of the natural habitats that surround our community.”
Projects included the TSU Riparian Reforestation, where volunteers replanted native trees along the flood-damaged banks of the Stones River; and Building TSU Rain Gardens, where volunteers dug and planted rain gardens to slow rainwater runoff into the soil.
Spear and fellow graduate student Jamal Henderson, a Civil Engineering major from Bridgeport, W.Va., joined others in TSU Energy Savings Tree Plantings, where volunteers strategically planted tress around the North Nashville community to provide shade and help cut energy costs.
“Giving my background in Architectural and Civil Engineering, these tree planting projects are very relatable as far as helping to improve the beauty and esthetics of the land,” said Henderson. “They improve energy usage and the environment.”
Another project was TSU Tree Potting, where volunteers planted tree seedlings into pots to be stored until the next fall planting season.
Service learning and community service is nothing new to the students, faculty and staff at the University. According to the Center for Service Learning, TSU offered 93 service-learning courses last year, while more than 2,000 students performed 20,000 community service hours at an estimated value of $400,000.
Just recently, TSU was named for the fifth year in a row to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning, and civic engagement.