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On the Ins and Outs of Outdoor Education

On Monday, April 1st no prank could prevent the return of beloved Juniata alum Zachary Adams. The 2017 graduate returned to campus to talk to students about his recent experiences working in the field of environmental education. I was very excited for the opportunity to speak to Zach because I also want to pursue environmental education as a bird guide. Before the talk, some of the upperclassmen from the wildlife society hosted Zach for a meet and greet at their house, just off-campus. I was eager to attend! I got to spend the better part of an hour talking to Zach about his time as a student, his career, and his life while also socializing with my fellow wildlifers. To top it all off, we ate pizza from Domino’s!

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Tenting Takeover

If you’ve been on campus lately, you’ve definitely noticed the swarm of tents that suddenly appeared on the Quad. No, it wasn’t an evil camping magician that sought vengeance on Juniata students. No, it wasn’t Laughing Bush (our outdoors club) practicing for their next outing. It was actually a Juniata tradition called – yep! you guessed it! – tenting!

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Halloween Haunts at JC

A cool wind blows across campus. Jack o’ landers glow at night; the faint sound of Michael Jackson’s Thriller can be heard in the distance. It’s officially Halloween at Juniata!

Pumpkins decorate the campus here at JC
Pumpkins decorate the campus here at JC

Throughout the last couple of weeks, we students have been very busy celebrating the arrival of Fall and all the seasonal joys that come along with it. The Juniata Activities Board annually hosts Festifall – a celebration of all things Fall that includes pumpkin carving, horseback carriage rides, hot chocolate, a costume contest, and much much more! The best part of Festifall is sitting around the fire with your friends, enjoying warm apple cider, and totally not procrastinating on homework.

What’s that? You can’t make it to Festifall? No worries! There are plenty of other events to attend. Just last week, the Social Dance Club hosted a Halloween dance where students dressed up in their costumes and learned common Halloween dances. A big plus is that Juniatians are very artistic, so you’ll always see some very intricate or super interesting costume designs. We also recently had a Haunted Walk put on by the Wild Hunters of Juniata where students traveled through a path in the forest to be scared by tons of spooky surprises.

Hallway costume pictures - a college classic
Hallway costume pictures – a college classic

Today is officially Halloween and that means trick or treating! Every year, Juniata students team up to decorate the lounges of our residence halls to get in the spirit of Halloween. Then, we invite the children from in town to come trick or treat on campus! It’s always a great time seeing the children gawk at everyone’s costumes and the awesome decorations we’ve put up to invite them into our halls.

The various events that I’ve described are only a few of the many traditions we observe here at Juniata. If you’re looking for a school that’s big on traditions and big on community, then Juniata might be the place for you!

Student Senate Means Business

Clack! A gavel at the front of the room hits the wood table, and the sea of chatter surrounding you slowly dwindles into silence. You look to your left, and then to your right, only to find students just like yourself dressed in semi-formal attire. Their attention is aimed at a PowerPoint slide titled “Student Senate Meeting – 10/1/18.”

As you might’ve guessed, this is a typical Student Senate meeting here at Juniata. Every two weeks, representatives from each class, different committees, and select other groups on campus come together to discuss solutions to issues facing students. Often times, there will also be a member of the administration presenting on pressing matters or giving senators the most up-to-date-information.

President Troha addressing Student Senate. Photo by Sophie Bell.
President Troha addressing Student Senate. Photo by Sophie Bell.

Just two meetings ago, President Troha himself presented the college’s budget to the body of student representatives. He discussed the college’s goals for the future, the introduction of new programs – like Mock Trial and eSports – to enhance the student experience, and reaffirmed the administration’s accountability to the student body.

When I asked about student government as I toured other schools, my questions were often dodged as if I had brought up some kind of scandal. I quickly found that at these schools, student government had no power to enforce their decisions or make any kind of real change. At other schools, these “student governments” represented a single interest group or weren’t committed to action.

Students voting on a motion. Photo by Sophie Bell.
Students voting on a motion. Photo by Sophie Bell.

When I first got involved in Student Senate at Juniata in my freshman year, I was amazed at how many groups of students were represented, and further, how much they actually accomplished. Through fair elections in every class, the appointment of 10 senators on behalf of a student advocacy group known as Students Advocating for Universal Respect, and the work of other specific committees, Juniata’s Student Senate beautifully represents students from all classes and identities. Last year, these students were able to get more bike racks and recycling bins on campus and assist in the selection process of a new food provider. These are just a few examples of the collective action of Juniata’s student body.

The experience of working with so many other students to collectively improve the lives of students as Freshman Class President is something I wouldn’t give up for anything. If you’re looking to make change in your new environment, give back to your community, and represent your peers, I suggest Student Senate at Juniata College.

From Inboundee to Inbound Leader

This year I had the honor of being an Inbound leader for the incoming first year students. I signed up to be a hiking leader – I don’t know why. I am not a hiker and I have no idea what was going through my brain when I filled out the application, but I was determined to make the most of it.

The Inbound leaders of my group last year were fabulous. They were relatable and basically the spirit guides of my first week at Juniata. I wanted to be like them for my group of Inboundees.

We hiked several different trails, and I went through like a bottle and a half of bug spray, but it was worth it. On one of our hikes, an Inboundee licked a slug against our recommendation. Turns out, when you lick certain slugs, the bottom of a slug it makes your tongue go numb. It was quite the week of learning.

My 19th birthday happened to be on the second day of Inbound, and we had a mini birthday celebration at the lake. We stuck candles in Rice Krispy treats and wore birthday hats and tiaras while we kayaked. It was the first-time kayaking for some of our Inboundees, and it was really cool to share this experience with them.

Me and my Inboundees at the bottom of 1000 Steps.
Me and my Inboundees at the bottom of 1000 Steps.

We hiked 1000 steps (the name is a lie by the way – it is more than 1000 steps), and I barely made it up. At every break in the stairs, the group would all take a break and turn around to watch me drag myself up the steps about 100 feet behind them. Around step 300 I waved them ahead with the other group leader and stopped for a break. I decided I couldn’t handle anymore hiking and told them I would meet them on their way down.

They sent me inspirational quotes and pictures of the view at the top to motivate me to keep going. I arrived about 20 minutes later than everyone else but I made it. They all applauded me when I arrived at the top of the lookout and immediately collapsed on the ground in a heap, gasping for breath. After I got over the fact that my legs were so tired it felt like they would never work again, I appreciated all of their motivation and support. I almost gave up, but I didn’t. It awoke a new determination within myself for the rest of our hiking adventures. I still always ended up bringing up the back of the group, but I wasn’t as far back as I was before.

The last day of Inbound got rained out, so we made tacos in one of the residence hall kitchens. I was low-key thankful to not be hiking another day, and eating tacos was a better bonding opportunity in my opinion.

We hiked, went kayaking, made tacos, played a lot of ice breakers, and made some pretty strong friendships. I’d say this Inbound was a success. I hope I was as good of an Inbound leader as mine were.