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Volunteer Fair brings service opportunities to WSU

(Photo by: Tyler Brown) Erin Adams with the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center holds a Screech Owl.
(Photo by Tyler Brown) Erin Adams with the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center holds a screech owl.

Nonprofit tables at the Volunteer Fair this Wednesday filled the Shepherd Union Atrium to bring awareness to their causes. Students munched on muffins from the Weber County elections while music played from the Weber State University Community Involvement Center.

WSU First Tech Challenge had one of its robots showcased on its table at the fair. The FTC is an organization that participates in robot competitions.

“We’re promoting the First Tech Challenge where students seventh (through) 12th grade build these robots and compete in a sports-like competition,” said Jenifer Stoddard, an FTC volunteer and electronics engineering major. “Right now we are looking for volunteers, referees and mentors to help set up and run things. We have this word, ‘coorpertition’ — working together but competing in a friendly manner.”

The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center had birds such as Pete the screech owl at the fair. Erin Adams, the secretary for the WRC and a WSU student, handled the bird. According to the WRC, as a baby, the first thing Pete saw was a human she imprinted on, rendering her unfit to be re-released into her natural habitat. Her name is an inside joke within the WRC community. They call her a repeat because of the imprinting that took place, and derived the name Pete for short.

In the year 2012, the WRC took in more than 2,000 animals, ranging from birds to small animals such as beavers and chipmunks. Of the animals brought to the WRC, 68 percent are released back into their natural habitats. The national average is 64 percent.

“Our mission is pretty special,” said Jen Dummer, the WRC volunteer coordinator, who is double-majoring in zoology and sociology. “On one hand, we are rehabilitators, and on the other hand, we are educators. They cannot be separated. If you do just rehabilitation without education, then problems keep recurring. Ninety-five percent of what comes through our doors is due to people, things that people may not be very aware of, like lead poisoning by sinkers and bullets. We had several bald eagles die from lead poisoning.”

Another organization at the fair was Catholic Community Services, Northern Utah’s largest pantry. Even though it was founded through the Catholic Church, people do not need to be Catholic or belong to any particular organization to receive food.

“We are the charitable arm of the Catholic Church,” said Karina Martin, a volunteer at the church and a pre-engineering major, “and there is no religious affiliation to the services we offer. No preaching, just free food for those who need it.”

Marie Grogan, who had a table for the Girls Scouts of Utah, has been volunteering there for 25 years.

“Awesome organization for girls,” she said about the group. “Very positive, safe environment to succeed, and if you fail at something, it is a just a safe place to do that — a great organization, because girls are only competing with girls.”

The Girl Scouts of Utah starts at kindergarten and goes all the way through high school. Girls develop skills such as money management, customer service and public speaking. To volunteer for the organization, people have to fill out an application and pass a background check.

“We would love this age of individuals to be volunteers for this organization,” Grogan said. “The girls really identified with someone who is on that younger end of the scale. It’s a little more hip. Also, men can be assistant leaders and volunteer for Girl Scouts. Having a male role model for the girls that get involved in the stuff that’s important to them, I don’t think you can trade that for anything. When girls (and) their dads are involved in girl scouting, that is just awesome. ”

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