Last weekend, Berkeley’s 17-acre off-leash area welcomed a dozen University of California volunteer students participating in Berkeley Project Day (BPD), a program that brings students together with locals for hands-on community service. On this remarkable day, over 1,000 Cal students are volunteering at our local parks. Another BPD will be held in early fall with over 2,000 students across the city! From painting park benches to clearing clogged streams, students are there to help.
The 12 students spent over 4 hours filling holes and distributing wood chips on paths in our OLA. This type of job isn’t always done by the town’s gardeners, but is important to the safety and enjoyment of dogs and their people. Some dogs dig holes, but this unsupervised activity can cause serious injury to both dogs and humans. The city’s Parks and Waterfront department helped coordinate work projects with the student organization and OLA stakeholders. The necessary tools, wood chips and earth were provided by the city, lunch and snacks were brought by the citizens for the Cesar Chavez Off-Leash Area. We also need to supervise and cheer the students – and introduce them to the dogs.
Berkeley Project Day is one of many volunteer service events held at colleges and universities across the country – UCLA, Michigan State, University of Kentucky, Texas A&M all host volunteer days for college students. Linking up with these programs is a great way to improve the maintenance of your park or capture the particular project that has been falling behind.
The Berkeley students were enthusiastic, hardworking, and loved the idea of donating their time to a “dog park”. Most of the volunteers are members of the Cal Marching Band and have worked effectively in teams, even harmoniously, as appropriate to their musical interests. It also gave the adult participants the opportunity to work side by side with student members of the community and build a cross-generational camaraderie that is seldom shown.
If your dog park is looking for youthful strength and extra hands, consider your local college student’s Volunteer Day – everyone will be amply rewarded! Or if you’ve already done this as a student volunteer or have a park supporter, let us know.