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The University of Alabama

UA Freshmen Honors Students Begin Community Service

Editor’s Note: A media day for Alabama Action is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 15, at Brookwood Elementary School, 16049 Alabama Highway 216 in Brookwood. Students will work outdoors and indoors on service projects. For details, contact Susan Alley at 205/348-5500 or The media day for Outdoor Action will be from 8:30 a.m. to noon, Thursday, Aug. 15, at Hurricane Creek. For information on covering Outdoor Action, contact Randy Mecredy at 205/348-2136 or

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — More than 250 University of Alabama Honors College freshmen and upper-class leaders will begin the fall semester with community service projects through Alabama Action and Outdoor Action.

The programs will run from Sunday, Aug. 11, to Friday, Aug. 16, in the West Alabama community. Students in the Honors College’s Alabama Action will be working at local elementary schools, while the Honor College’s Outdoor Action students will be working on rivers and creeks.

Alabama Action

Some 150 UA honors students along with 31 leaders will participate in Alabama Action, a program combining service to the community with education. This year, students will perform service projects at Brookwood and Cottondale elementary schools. The program is led by Susan Alley, assistant coordinator of recruitment for the Honors College and faculty adviser for Alabama Action. The 2013 program is the 13th annual Alabama Action project organized and carried out by UA honors students.

Students will build a baseball field and renovate a garden into an outdoor classroom at Brookwood as well as perform such indoor projects as repainting libraries, hallways, cafeterias, and basketball courts at both schools.

“We are so excited for the incoming Honors freshmen to begin their college career with a service-learning opportunity because it really helps set the tone for their college career,” Alley said. “In the Honors College, we believe that educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all. Before classes even begin, our students are seeing the effects of socio-economic disparities in our county schools and discovering ways to create systemic change in the community.”

Outdoor Action

More than 100 students will participate in the Outdoor Action service learning program.  Under Randy Mecredy, director of UA’s Alabama Museum of Natural History, and Dr. Justin L. Hart, UA assistant professor of geography, 80 incoming freshmen and 22 student leaders will learn about the biodiversity of Alabama by studying the ecology of rivers and forests. Outdoor Action has been in operation since 2005.

The students will look for reptiles, cast nets for fish, collect mussels, go canoeing on the Sipsey River, complete service projects on the Black Warrior River and conduct two days of community service at Hurricane Creek in Tuscaloosa as part of the continuing 2011 tornado recovery effort.

“The course raises the students’ awareness of our state’s rich biodiversity by having them participate in field trips, hands-on environmental action, readings and discussions,” Mecredy said. “It helps the students to become environmentally informed citizens who are empowered to address global and local challenges and protect Alabama’s biodiversity.”

Outdoor Action activities are supported by the Honors College, the Alabama Museum of Natural History and UA Outdoor Recreation.

The University of Alabama Honors College provides an environment where exceptional students can thrive. It supports a culture of community and collaboration. In turn, Honors College students earn a world-class education based on these four pillars:  innovative scholarship, advanced research, cultural interaction and civic engagement.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.