Fourteen Alfred State building trades  students began a 12-week project-based learning assignment Friday when they departed from the Alfred Campus for Biloxi, Mississippi. There, they will spend six-weeks building homes for Habitat for Humanity before moving on to New Orleans for another six-weeks to renovate the Dodwell House in the City’s Spanish quadrant.
This is the third year that Alfred State students have journeyed to the Southern states to apply their knowledge, gain valuable hands on learning, and make a difference in struggling communities.
“This is a semester of service that takes project-based learning and civic engagement to an extreme,” said trip coordinator and Associate Professor, Building Trades Norm Ellis  of Alfred State’s School of Applied Technology. “This isn’t just a road trip – it’s a unique opportunity to make a difference in communities, to experience the world, and to solve real world problems in real world situations.”
Seth Preston of Angelica said he was certain he was going spend a semester in service when he learned about the opportunity as a freshman. “It’s an adventure,” said Preston, “and I am all for that.” Classmate Sean Richardson was hooked on the idea as a freshman as well only in his case he already had a taste of what working on a Habitat for Humanity project would be like. As a high school student in his hometown of Silver Creek he volunteered on Habitat projects for two years.
“Volunteers come from all walks but on a Habitat project, the people who know building skills can take the lead. I think we are going to be able to take on a leadership role and that’s the part that appeals to me,” said Richardson. “This is our chance to apply what we know to the real world and make a difference.”
While in Biloxi, students will stay in modest accommodations and interact with the members of the community. Likewise, in New Orleans their experience will be enriched by staying at the Dodwell House in quarters of the run-down mansion that were once used to house slaves. The Dodwell House is part of the Episcopal Dioscese in New Orleans. Once it is renovated, it will be used as a much needed community center in the Spanish quadrant of the City of New Orleans.
Local Alfred State building trades students who departed for a semester of service in the South include, from left, David Pierce of Olean, Bob Loundsberry of Almond, and Seth Preston of Angelica.