Perspectives Online

College's clubs help students forge 'real world' links

Alpha Zeta members (left) and Companion Animal Club members (center and right) put a lot of time and enthusiasm into their Agricultural Awareness Week exhibits on the Brickyard.
Photos left and right by Art Latham. Photo in the center Courtesy Companion Animal Club.

Holly Settlemyre, chronicler for Alpha Zeta honor fraternity, walked around the hay bales in the Brickyard on N.C. State University's campus, bundled against the freezing March evening wind during Agriculture Awareness Week.

"We'll probably be here all night," she said, indicating Connie Taylor, who was answering a passerby's questions, and a handful of other brave AZ sisters and brothers huddling on bales near a flapping tent wall. In an improvised corral nearby, a fistulated cow ignored the fuss, as a newspaper photographer snapped it, and several exchange students leaned on the cold metal rails to politely ask fraternity members about the beast.

The fraternity promotes agriculture on campus and in the community and helps honor students find fellowships through projects such as Founder's Day, Christmas tree sales, Feed Raleigh, Adopt-A-Family, Oakwood Cemetery restoration, campus beautification projects and various events sponsored by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The AZ students huddled for the chilly all-nighter are part of a club that requires members to demonstrate scholarship, character and leadership along with a positive attitude.

Theirs is one of the College's 35 student special-interest clubs and organizations - from Alpha Zeta to the Zoology Club - that are vital to the College's mission, says Dr. Kenneth Esbenshade, associate dean and academic programs director.

"Every student," he says, "should consider getting involved in one or more on-campus organizations to meet others with mutual interests and goals and further develop their leadership and communications skills."

Club participation not only boosts interaction with faculty, alumni and others, but also provides connections to professional and graduate schools, the work world and self-employment, Esbenshade says.

It also offers a chance to represent the university in competitions.

Four Animal Science Club members recently won for the first time at the national American Society of Animal Science Quadrathalon contest in Little Rock, Ark. Club members Stephanie Moffitt, Brian Redfern, Josh Brown and Anna Munday won top honors in the contest. The club also recently created a new scholarship endowment in the College from the proceeds of their State Fair fund-raising projects (see Animal Science Club invests in future students).

"Faculty member involvement with the clubs helps us get to know the students better, which in turn helps us stay in touch with their interests and hopefully make our courses more interesting," says Kimberly Ange, lecturer in the Department of Animal Science and Companion Animal Club co-adviser.

In February, Ange accompanied Companion Animal Club members on a visit to circus animal-care compounds when Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey was in town. Circus professionals explained animal-care procedures to club members, and the club observed elephants and big cats close up. The circus's animal behaviorist spoke at a later dinner.

Pets are also welcome at CAC, where students from all majors and backgrounds learn more about companion animals and celebrate pet contributions to owners' emotional and physical well-being.

The club performs service projects and takes field trips to dog and cat shows and the state Zoological Park.

-Art Latham