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Fort Hays State students help Camp Pawnee
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Photo by Jim Misunas Great Bend Tribune Fort Hays State students Brett Gfeller, Ryan Hoffman of Hoisington and Derek Schroeder work on planting a tree at Camp Pawnee Friday.

By Jim Misunas

LARNED — For Hoisington’s Ryan Hoffman, the Camp Pawnee Revitalization Project was a great way to gain practical experience.
The agronomy major at Fort Hays State University was part of a 15-member contingent that performed a community work project Friday at Camp Pawnee.
Hoffman played basketball, football and tennis at Hoisington High. The work crews assisted with electrical and irrigation work and planted dozens of trees and plants.   
“The whole day was a good experience from getting a chance to socialize with my classmates to learning a lot of things hands-on,” he said. “Planting the trees was the best thing. This was a lot of fun, a good experience from being in the classroom all day.”
A variety of trees were planted — Fir Oak, Blue Maple, London Plane and Honey Locust.
The agronomy students had done a few community work projects, building rain barrels, and maintenance and landscape work for the Humane Society of the High Plains.
Jean A. Gleichsner, Fort Hays State University agriculture professor, was the supervisor for the project.
Larned Pride member Jenny Manry asked Gleichsner if she was interested in having my students participate in this project a year ago.
“She wrote us into the grant and found funding for trees and travel to Camp Pawnee. I started discussing the project in January 2012 with students. As the date drew near I spent more time discussing what they were going to be doing at the site — such as planting trees and flowers, mulching and installing irrigation.”
Gleichsner said a work project is a valuable learning experience.
 “This project demonstrates how they can take something talked about in class and put it into practice,” she said. “There is nothing like doing something to really understand how to actually do it. Even though the students are not majoring in horticulture the skills learned such as planting, mulching and irrigation) will be valuable when they become home owners.”
The students learn that many groups working together can accomplish quite a lot in a short time.
“They also see that different people bring valuable expertise that allow a project of this scale to be accomplished,” Gleichsner said. “The project also teaches them how to deal with problems - such as how to repair a leak in the irrigation line.”
She said it was gratifying to see the students interact with each other in an off-campus situation.
“Most of the students really like hands-on-learning and they were able to do that with this project,” she said. “They also got a chance to work with other students and get to know them out of the classroom.
Camp Pawnee projects include a basketball court, a volleyball court, fishing dock, clubhouse renovations, new trees and a new playground.
“Walking through the camp with volunteers and contractors has brought a wealth of childhood memories through stories recalled as adults,” Manry said. “Larned Pride values the importance of family and community togetherness and feels that Camp Pawnee will serve as a place where children, adults, families, can visit and spend time with one another.”
Fort Hays State students participating were Derek Schroeder, Tipton; Lincoln Griffin (The Boss), Natoma; Brett Gfeller, Winona; Zach Minnihan, Wichita; Cole Mangers, Roseland, Neb,.; Wesley Martin, Herndon; Ben Clinksales, Hays; Cristy Ziegler, Alamosa, Colo.; Mitka Podzemny, Ashland; Andy Tincknell (Video Guy), Hays; Eric Woodside, Prairie View; Julie Colling, Port Angeles, Wash.; and Adam Conkey, Edmond, Kan.
The YouTube video link produced by video guy Andy Tincknell is available on the project: