By Kristina Kincer // Contributing Writer | Photo courtesy of MTSU News
The Stones Rivers National Battle Field celebrated its National Park Centennial with a park day volunteer project called “The Big Event” on Saturday with mote than 400 volunteers at Old Fort Park in Murfreesboro.
The Stones River National Battle Field Chief of Operations, Gib Backlund, organized community volunteers like the Girl Scout Troop #540 from Smyrna, employees from Starbucks, Junior JROTC and different MTSU student organizations, such as the Student Government Association, the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership and MTSU Storm Water Program to attend the event.
“This is the biggest that we’ve have done and it went off pretty well,” Backlund said.
In honor of National Park Week, all National Parks are celebrating the centennial anniversary of the National Park Service.
“For many years we have been having volunteer projects in April for National Park Week,” Backlund said.
Over the last few years, Old Fort Park has been the focus of projects because it shares its location with the City Park, the National Park, Fortress Rosecrans, Lytle Creek and the Greenway.
“We get people who work with all those places: the Green Way staff, City Park staff, a stormwater program from MTSU and from the city and the county,” Backlund said.
MTSU’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety Coordinator, Cynthia Allen, and Environmental Engineer, Sheila Knight, P.E, worked in collaboration with the SGA and the United Way of Rutherford at the event.
“We had some really excellent volunteers and helpers come to the event,” Knight said. “I think that is the important part, people getting out there and becoming an active participant and volunteering in their community.
This is not the first time that MTSU has contributed in events similar to the Big Event.
“We have bi-annual events; we always do it in the spring for park day and the fall for public landscape day,” Allen said.
Those in charge of the Big Event said they tried to set goals for volunteers.
“[The] first goal of the process [was] to remove invasive plants in the park and to plant some trees [and] to remove trash and debris that was in the area,” Knight said. “[The] secondary goal was to get people out in the park and [to make] an opportunity for volunteers to make a positive impact in our community.”
According to Allen, cooperation between local businesses and MTSU organizations has proven to be successful.
“It’s only possible through these collaborations, these partnerships,” Allen said.