University of Dubuque students volunteer at park - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

University of Dubuque students volunteer at park

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

More than 400 first-year students at the University of Dubuque lent a helping hand Sunday afternoon at the Mines of Spain Recreation Area.

This 10th annual day of service is part of an orientation class every first-year UD student takes, called the World View Seminar.

With first-year students from all over the globe, this service project helped make students feel more at home in Dubuque.

First-year student Luiz Duran drove 24 hours from his El Paso, Texas home to Dubuque and said the reception has been warm.

"The people in here, I feel like I'm in my hometown," Duran said.

The first-year students, divided into 20 class sections of about 20 people each, gathered Sunday afternoon in the UD quad.

Tashia Hood is a junior at the university and a mentor to first-year students.

"A lot of freshmen that come here are mainly homesick, and they stay so far away from home," she said.

Lindsey Konken is the UD student activities director, who organized this service trip to the Mines of Spain.

"I would say the majority of our first-year class is not from the immediate area," Konken said. "They come from all over the nation as well as all over the world."

Buses whisked these groups away to the Mines of Spain, where student projects included clearing brush and adding wood chips to the gardens.

Park ranger Wayne Buchholtz said the help is extra useful this year, after the flooding in late July tore up a lot of the park's trails, among other damage.

"This helps us with a lot of the projects that sometimes we have difficulty getting it done because of time or staffing and so forth," Buchholtz said.

Bryson Pitts is a freshman football player from Chicago, who is adjusting to life in a smaller city.

"It's a huge change," Pitts said. "I'm still trying to get used to it. I've called my mom a couple of times already."

UD students begin their school year Monday.

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