University-community cooperation vital

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - SFA students line up on a Friday afternoon, ready to volunteer their services. For them it's, "The Big Event," smiled one student. So named is a one day volunteer extravaganza. "It's for people that can't get stuff done, like painting and stuff. We're gonna help them with it," explained David Landis, a student volunteer.

Students get down and dirty for non profits all over town. One group painted kennels at the Nacogdoches Animal Shelter.  "It makes me a little sad with all the dogs," said Meagan Reed, a student volunteer. "I want to take one home, but I really feel happy working here."

In a more academic setting, a public forum addresses the importance of university and community cooperation. One speaker ends his presentation saying, "I am looking forward to a  very productive partnership with Stephen F. Austin state University."   "We're asking the right questions, trying to find out what the community needs are on a regional level," explained Chay Runnels, a faculty member from SFA's School of Human Sciences and forum organizer.

Community needs are many.  On the same as the big event and the public forum a SFA education job fair was sending new teachers to schools region wide.  "They work with our school districts and help send us qualified applicants," said G.W. Neal, assistant superintendent for the Nacogdoches Independent School District.  "We're very fortunate to be in the same community as Stephen F Austin State University."

Communities also use SFA interns, grant writers, and researchers. The benefits are two fold explained Dr Jerry Williams, Department of Sociology chair. "The more we can get students involved in the community, in real world projects, the more they learn, the more their education means to them," said Williams.  "And so it can be double duty. We teach them and we do good things for the community."

There is an economic value and a social value of cooperation.  "We just enjoy giving back," said Tara Richard, a president of a service organization.  "That's the biggest gift, is to give back."