Rediscover Allerton, University of Illinois Student Tanner Callahan
Long before I enrolled at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana I decided to devote my studies to the environment. So naturally, revisiting the well known formal gardens and statues that define Allerton daily this past summer was a greatly accepted privilege. Every morning I knew that something new was awaiting me while driving down that familiar narrow road surrounded by the tall woodlands and colorful prairie.
When I applied for the extra help position I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was hard labor; cutting down trees, putting my bare hands in the rich dirt, and working in the hot sun from 7 to 5 was no easy task. Even dodging the occasional snake that crossed my path was shocking and new, but the result was a lifelong instilled passion for Allerton. I’m originally from Champaign, Illinois; some of my earlier and fondest memories as a child have been made at Allerton Park and Retreat Center. My involvement there now has only solidified them, after you work hard to keep something as beautiful as Allerton alive then you just want to keep going further.
That’s where the creation of University of Illinois’ new RSO (registered student organization), the Allerton Ambassadors, came in. Another senior and myself that worked at Allerton over the summer realized that not a lot of students even knew the park existed, let alone that it’s university property and accessible to everyone. This point really hit home during quad day, which is during the first week of classes and gives the university’s student groups a chance to promote themselves. The expressions on student’s faces when we handed them fliers was that of pure confusion, “What is Allerton? What do they do?”
My goal by the time I graduate this May is to use the Allerton Ambassadors to answer those questions in full for as many students as I can and strengthen the use of the park for my peers. So far this year we have taken buses to the concert series, gotten tours from faculty members, and helped to promote Allerton on campus through other student organizations. These events will only continue to grow with volunteer activities and fundraisers planned for this semester. I hope that I can build a foundation at the University of Illinois with this student organization, and I can see a very bright future for years to come. When students utilize Allerton Park they will form the same connection to it that I have, and realize what a blessing it is to have something as great as the park for us to enjoy.
March 6th, 2014 by Allerton | Posted in Rediscover Allerton