Serve. Give back. Pay it forward. Volunteer. Whatever you call it, people love to do it. On Martin Luther King Junior Day, this past Monday, 30 students from Missouri State University Bear Service Team gathered with tired eyes and warm coffees at the Watershed Center in the cool of the morning. While their roommates, classmates, and friends surely slept in or had grand plans of bingeing on a favorite Netflix series, these students got up and decided to make a difference with their day. Joined by hundreds of MSU students all over town, this crew got up early and got to work, accomplishing a great deal all before lunchtime. While the motivations vary, for some it is religion and others it is community or scholarship, they all had something in common: they love to serve. To work for free is no small deed. We cry for bigger paychecks, march the streets in the name of a higher minimum wage, and yet these people, these “volunteers”, find a way to exert energy and emotion for no payment at all. While I try to ponder the reasons behind this radicle behavior, the true message is loud and clear: Give us a project, give us a job, and we will do it.


I was astounded at the number of difference makers that worked for more than an hour picking up rocks and sticks from a dirt field. Rocks and sticks! I could hardly think of a worse or more boring job, but they toiled away happily. Now, for some, this was not the right job. With a quick reassignment, they were happily working away, building a compost bin, driving a wheel barrow, clearing the trails. By the end of the morning, we had accomplished a great deal, and by we, I mean they. I offered minimal assistance and guidance, and they worked like a well-oiled machine. We wrapped up the day by putting all of the tools away and hiking the trail around the lake together. I hope that they had the chance to take in what they are a part of, what we all are a part of. The work they did may have seemed dull when they were staring at bare dirt, or carrying a bucket full of rocks. Be sure, though, that they did a great deal more work to prepare the ground for rehabilitation than I ever could have on my own. Under the direction of myself and the couple of Master Naturalists that came to lend a hand, the land stewards got the soil ready for prairie seeds that will hit the ground next month, turning a post construction weed garden into a flourishing demonstration native prairie site. Although, I am sure that many who were working that day would have been perfectly happy not knowing what difference they made, just being satisfied knowing that a difference was made.

Many thanks are due those individuals who do much and ask for nothing. Thanks for reading, and thank you for all of your time.


Rob Hunt, Watershed Center Coordinator


To see more, search for the hashtags #bearserviceteam and #servedbeforeitwascool on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to find out all of the great places these men and women served.

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