Students Volunteer for the Community and Conservation: Bonner Scholars Conduct Workday at Hampton Creek Cove State Natural Area

bonnerscholarshcc.jpgHampton Creek Cove State Natural Area (HCC), a 693-acre natural area protected since 1986 and co-managed by the State of Tennessee and SAHC, draws outdoor enthusiasts of all types to its beautiful, wild landscapes and streams that are important habitat for a variety of rare plant and animal species. The natural area is a special place of beauty for local residents and visitors, where they can find solace and relaxation hiking, birding, or enjoying the abundant wildflowers. HCC is home to one of the largest Golden-winged Warbler breeding grounds in the southern Appalachians and a self-sustaining brook trout population. Effective and active management is the key to preserving the ecological integrity of this area. This spring, the Bonner Scholars Program from Emory & Henry College in Emory, VA and Mars Hill College in Mars Hill, NC contributed to this effort for the second year in a row, organizing a team of thirty volunteer students for a full day of trail maintenance at HCC on Saturday, April 9th.

Initiated at Berea College in Kentucky in 1990, the Bonner Scholars program aims to transform the lives of college students by providing them access to education and opportunities to serve their communities. The program has grown remarkably since then; it now involves 1,600 students at 27 different colleges. The program is built on the idea that students engaged in service have unique gifts and talents that bring energy, creativity, and hope to individuals and communities. Their hard work to maintain Hampton Creek Cove for the community and the environment exemplifies this mission.

Lisa Huff, East Tennessee State Natural Areas Manager, and Judy Murray, SAHC’s Highlands of Roan Stewardship Director, co-led the workday. David Hall and Tom Gatti, active SAHC volunteers, also assisted in coordinating the volunteers. On the Shell Hollow Trail, the students replaced worn water bars to keep the trail from erosion due to water run-off, re-routed a portion of the trail above Shell Cemetery, and cleaned the cemetery and trail of fallen debris. The volunteers also performed trail maintenance on the Birchfield Trail. They cleared fallen tree limbs from winter storms, cut back encroaching vegetation, and installed signs and blazes where they were needed. They also re-opened a section to the hiker stile that connects the forested section of the trail to the pasture section. Everyone pitched in, worked hard, and got all of the management goals for the day met.

The State of Tennessee and SAHC are very grateful to all of the volunteers from the Bonner Scholars Program that contributed their time and energy at the workday. Their commitment to improve the lives of others and the environment through community service is influential in cultivating positive change in our area and will continue to do so in the future.

Supervisors: Travis Proffitt, M.A., LifeWorks Field Service Coordinator, and Christian Miller, Bonner Scholars Coordinator

Mars Hill College Volunteers: Brad Hughes, Sky Assif, Steven Bryan, Jordon Crawford, Wadeana Dickey, Andrew Herbert, Heather Lynn Huckabee, Carissa Mathis, Adam Mincey, Megan Redford, Zach Searcy, Jessica Shelton, Victor Sloan, Allison Vance, Autumn Watkins, Reba West

Emory & Henry Volunteers: Stephen Brown, Hai Yan Chen, Meredith Cox, Sheree Hairston, Anthony Jones, Spencer King, Rayce lamb, Leah Pendley, Zac Mitchell, Da’Von Ross, Devan Sproles, Brian Stanley