Appalachian Honors Association builds bridges

The Appalachian Honors Association (AHA!) worked with VIP High Country Volunteers (VIP HCV), a National Park Service (NPS) volunteer group, to complete a service trip at Price Lake on October 21, 2023. VIP HCV supports the High Country section of the Blue Ridge Parkway National Park. Together AHA! and VIP HCV demolished and rebuilt two old and rotting footbridges on the Price Lake Loop Trail. They completely replaced one bridge and replaced boards on the other.


Above, Honors students work with VIP High Country volunteers to rebuild a bridge on the Price Lake Loop Trail as a part of AHA! service trip on October 21, 2023. Photo by Ken Carpenter with VIP High Country Volunteers.


The 2023-24 AHA! leadership board consists of: Honors senior Anna Carroll (president), junior Angela Sajewicz (vice president), junior Brooke Donley (secretary), junior Lanna Bruce (treasurer), first-year student and Chancellor’s Scholar Kelsie Peck (logistics coordinator), first-year student and Chancellor’s Scholar Kaylie Morales (co-social media coordinator), junior Gracie Landrum (co-social media coordinator), sophomore Ella Watt (service chair), junior Courtney Quinton (general), senior Allie Tippin (general), junior Alex Griffa (general), junior Amanda Bruckstein (general), and junior Christian Hart (general). About this service trip, Carroll reflected,

"This service trip made me really happy to be part of Honors College and AHA! It was a great feeling to see our team work together to hold this event. We gave back to the community and provided a way for Honors students to get out of the dorms and play a part in the community. I am really happy to be part of such a great team of students.”

AHA! service chair, Ella Watt, coordinated this event. In total, nine Honors students participated including: Grace Carter, Kelsie Peck, Jasper (Vedvy) Gonzalez, Grace Guevarra, Mafer Yzaziga, Gavin Weidner, Celia Merrifield, Hannah Schulze, and Ella Watt. Schulze explained that Watt “did an incredible job organizing this trip… AHA! hasn't gotten involved with Parkway service before, and I think that this trip was a really great start to continued involvement. Participating in this trip allowed me to meet more Honors students from different years and majors…My favorite part about the trip was being able to work with both peers and the older volunteers who work at Price Lake often. We were able to bounce ideas off each other, think collaboratively, and learn a lot from each other, as not many of us had ever built a bridge before. I'm hoping that once all of this snow and ice have cleared-up we'll be able to volunteer with the Parkway service again, and hopefully get even more Honors students involved.” 

Watt further reflected,

"I enjoyed collaborating with the VIP High Country Volunteers and Anna [Carroll] to make this trip possible. I learned so much about communication within the Honors College, other Honors students, and one of the many local volunteer groups that help make Boone a better place for everyone!"


Photo above features (left to right) Honors students Gavin Weidner, Grace Carter, Grace Guevarra, and Ella Watt with AHA! doing trail maintenance on the Price Lake Loop Trail on October 21, 2023. Photo by Ken Carpenter with VIP High Country Volunteers.


Both Carroll and Watt agreed that the trip was successful had the success that it did because of the actual work that they did in making the trail safer for all people who use it. Carroll stated, “We were helping to build new footbridges on the trail which was physically difficult, but everyone worked really hard and got it done. Even though it was a smaller group, we helped to make a difference.” Watt added that, “the bridge and boards we replaced were so rotted that they were a big safety issue as they were uneven and liable to break in the near future!”

AHA! leadership are currently discussing their options and plans for service this spring semester, so stay tuned for more opportunities to get involved in similar projects.

Photo shows VIP High Country Volunteers (two far left and two on bottom right) with Honors students (left to right) Gavin Weidner, Kelsie Peck, Grace Carter, Grace Guevarra, and Ella Watt building bridges on the Price Lake Loop Trail during AHA’s service trip. Photo by Ken Carpenter with VIP High Country Volunteers.

Published: Jan 23, 2024 5:06pm