Big Sweep 2017

GWU Honors Student Association Continues Big Sweep Tradition in West Jefferson, N.C.

By: Sthefany Flores ’18 GWU-Today

The Gardner-Webb Honors Student Association (HSA) participated in its annual Big Sweep camping retreat Sept. 8-10. For almost three decades, students in the Honors program have cleaned a section of the New River in West Jefferson, N.C. “We found less waste than the last few years and I think that’s a good thing,” observed Dr. Tom Jones, professor of biology and associate dean of the Honors program.

When GWU first participated in Big Sweep in 1989, it was a joint effort between the Honors program and the Department of Natural Sciences. “When we first came, there were about 27 students and faculty attending,” Jones said. “This year there were 158 volunteers and 72 students and faculty from GWU.”

He said one of the benefits is the bonding that occurs on the trip and another is service learning. “We have gotten so large that we have four University 111 classes, so a lot of [the students] get to meet each other here,” Jones elaborated. “[Big Sweep] is also a very good introduction to Pro Deo et Humanitate (for God and humanity)—and it’s not thankless. They appreciate what volunteers do. I think that service learning is important. It’s good for students to see how student leadership develops and you want to see what skills they have and how they can be utilized.”

Although the HSA does not yet know the exact weight of what was cleared from the river, the group found several large pieces. They picked up 13 tires—including a tractor tire—a tarp, a gutter, and several bottles, cans and other waste.

To learn more about the Honors Student Association:
Email Dr. Tom Jones
Email HSA President Hayden Corley