Valley City State University Freshmen spent a morning in the country working for a cause Thursday.
As part of the Learning to Live/Living to learn course, about 200 students – the entire freshman class – converged on the Dan Faust farm near Valley City to pick squash for the Great Plains Food Bank. The group nearly filled two semi-trailers with buttercup squash – more than 47,630 pounds. The squash will be distributed to more than 270 charitable feeding programs including shelters, soup kitchens and food pantries.
Faust began growing extra squash in his garden about four years ago after hearing a plea from the food bank for gardeners to grow a little extra to donate.
A few extra seeds turned into an annual event that provided more than 50,000 pounds of squash last year.
"We didn't have any idea how much we'd get this year because of the dry weather," said Faust, who was impressed with how well the students worked together.
"The kids seemed to have a good time," he said.
According to Kari Striklin, Director of the student center and student activities at VCSU, the students, who have been involved in picking squash at the Faust farm for the past three years, benefit from the activity by learning how to work together to help others.
"It just makes your heart warm," said Stricklin. "And there was no grumbling," she added with a laugh.
"This service activity gives our students a clear message about the importance of helping others and giving back to the community," said Margaret Dahlberg, vice president for academic affairs at VCSU, in a press release. "Throughout their careers at VCSU, these same students will be involved in a variety of community service activities through the organizations they participate in and the courses they take. Activities such as these promote leadership and engaged citizenship – both important qualities for future success."
After the students were finished picking, Faust treated them to a hot dog roast to thank them, a first for some students who may have come to VCSU from large cities, said Stricklin.
Read this story in Friday's Times-Record.