In the early morning hours on the day before classes were to begin for the fall 2018 semester, 13 Alfred State College building trades: building construction students, along with their instructor, Dan Drake, set out for a field trip like no other.
Their destination: Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, located on the border of Tennessee and Kentucky. Drake and his students traveled to participate in a restoration project at The Homeplace 1850s Working Farm and Living History Museum. While on site, students worked to restore historic cabins on the farm, with much of the work involving replacing wood-shingled roofs and log restoration.
Students participating in the project include: Martin Buchinsky, of Binghamton; Tyler Caton, of Nunda; Kevin Connelly, of Brockport; Parker Czerniak, of Colden; Michael James, of Akron; Ronald Jones, of Tonawanda; Nicholas Lane, of Waterloo; Brandon Miller, of Kendall; Michael Pazik, of Wilson; Joshua Schamberger, of Buffalo; Jesse Tinker, of Horseheads; Dylan Utz, of Buffalo; and Zachary Wheeler, of Buffalo.
The job was managed by HistoriCorps, a nonprofit organization that helps mobilize volunteers to participate in restoration projects on public lands across the nation. Alfred State's connection with HistoriCorps began last fall when building construction students worked on a similar project in Allegany State Park.
"Last year's project was a great experience for everyone involved. Our students learned a lot about restoration and teamwork, and HistoriCorps personnel were able to learn about our program and the type of education Alfred State offers. On a departmental level, we determined that HistoriCorps could be a valuable partner in the education of our students." said Jack Jones, chair of Alfred State’s Building Trades Department. "We really value opportunities to get students out of the traditional classroom environment, especially when they can use their developing skills to make a difference in the world around them. This year we wanted to take that to the next level."
While on site, workers slept in living quarters provided by the park. HistoriCorps provided logistical structure and meals, but students helped out with some of the meal preparation and cleanup. During downtime, students were able to enjoy life on the 1850s farm and swim in a nearby lake.
This trip is one of two HistoriCorps projects that are scheduled for the fall semester. In late September, Building Trades Instructor Brady Adams will depart with four more building construction students to Malakoff Diggins State Park in California.
"These projects are intended to supplement regular instruction for students and offer them the chance to do some things that they would not do on campus," said Jones. "Aside from good hands-on experience, they are learning valuable life skills and making great memories while living together on the job site."
Drake noted that once the group arrived at Homeplace, he immediately realized how important the project would be to all parties involved.
“It helped HistoriCorps in giving them a major boost in meeting their contract with Homeplace, and most importantly, it helped Alfred State College in training 13 students on the importance of civic engagement,” he said. “I was so proud of these 13 students! In hot and humid conditions, they were relentless on working hard to complete these three structures, but most of all, they had some of the greatest memories on this trip that they will laugh about throughout the whole year. I was very proud to be their instructor and look forward to a great semester with this group.”