Honors South Africa Abroad Students Win Best Overall at UCF's Annual Service Learning Showcase

Published: Thursday, April 20, 2017

Last summer eight brave Honors students embarked on the adventure of a lifetime to South Africa for a month to implement a variety of service learning projects.

On April 12, 2017 the students decided to participate in UCF's 14th Annual Service-learning Student Showcase and won Best Overall Service-Learning Project.

The service-learning projects these students completed at the Nambiti Big 5 Game Reserve in South Africa were responsible for removing 20 invasive trees, surveying one thousand acres of acacia trees, dehorning 3 white rhinos, and setting up 11 leopard research camera and dispersing leopard attractant across the 22,000 acres of reserve. These projects also benefited the staff of 9 lodges in Nambiti and enhances the habitat of the 40 animal species that live on the reserve.

As a result of these projects, the reserve has a more robust data-set of acacia tree damage and biomass, a consistent record of leopard activity within the reserve, a stronger defense against rhino poaching, and a more healthy, native ecosystem for its animal and plant residents.

The students also brought $660 worth of donated medical supplies and worked with about 200 locals to educate the community on basic health and hygiene practices. In order to improve sanitation, a greywater drainage pipe was installed. The students raised $250 for supplies and books for the orphanage's school, as well as 14 school uniforms. They also provided Kindles for students to share, servicing about 50 students. In order to power the Kindles and the Community Center as a whole, one student installed portable solar panels to expand the center's access to power. One student worked with Dressed in Hope to procure dresses for about 250 young girls. 

The students won a total of $1,800 and decided to donate a portion of the money back to the program.

"South Africa exposed me to new perspectives and gave me a glimpse into an entirely new way of life," said Jacqueline Meyer. "It was an incredible experience I would recommend to any student, and I will carry it with me throughout my college and professional career and look forward to the day I can return to that beautiful country."