BATON ROUGE – The fourth annual Geaux BIG Baton Rouge was held Saturday, April 16, 2016, beginning with an opening ceremony on the LSU Natatorium Field. Geaux BIG Baton Rouge is an LSU student organization that plans and implements the largest day service event at LSU that unites the university community and Baton Rouge residents through service in order to express appreciation for the community's support.
Approximately 1,650 LSU student, faculty and staff volunteers organized in teams impacting approximately 75 work sites. LSU Chapter of Phi Eta Sigma members demonstrated leadership in service, strength, and community outreach as they created a Geaux BIG Baton Rouge team. The Phi Eta Sigma team served in rehabilitating the Family and Youth Service Center in East Baton Rouge, La.
“Organizing a Phi Eta Sigma team for Geaux BIG Baton Rouge was an immensely exciting project for me,” said Anna C. Sightler, a native of Franklinton, La., sophomore majoring in business, and vice president of LSU’s Chapter of Phi Eta Sigma. “Being able to give back to a community that has played a significant role in shaping our college experience was the most important aspect of forming a team. As Vice President of Phi Eta Sigma, I am honored to use my position as a springboard to involve our members in the community and make a positive impact at LSU. Participating in volunteer projects allows the LSU community to preview the ideals that being a member of Phi Eta Sigma represents. In the future, I want to continue to involve both new and current members of Phi Eta Sigma in various volunteer programs in the hopes of leaving the LSU community a better place than it was before we started.”
LSU President F. King Alexander, Vice President of Student Life and Enrollment Kurt Keppler, Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Mari Fuentes-Martin, Louisiana Senator Regina Barrow, and City of Baton Rouge Chief Service Officer Kia Bickham presented the kickoff ceremony.
Homeowners and nonprofits across East Baton Rouge Parish submitted requests for help completing a variety of jobs in fall 2015. Geaux BIG Baton Rouge organizers assessed each site to develop working plans and to mitigate safety concerns, and volunteers were divided into teams suited to each site’s needs. According to the Independent Sector’s 2014 data, this single day of service provided a benefit to the local economy equivalent to more than $131,000.
The Family and Youth Services Center is a component of East Baton Rouge Truancy Assessment Inc., a non-profit corporation with a Board of Directors comprised of the major funding agencies. The Family and Youth Service Center works with the community to provide health, education, and human services supporting children and families in their progress toward success in school. This assistance for the students ultimately also provides support for the family as it progresses toward self-sufficiency. Data within East Baton Rouge Parish demonstrates a strong correlation between the truancy rates and the domicile of juvenile crime offenders within designated zip codes. In East Baton Rouge Parish 40.95% of juvenile crime is committed by juveniles living in only three zip codes (70805, 70802 and 70807): 70.82% of juvenile offenders live in only eight zip codes.
The LSU Chapter of Phi Eta Sigma has a past history of service to LSU and the Baton Rouge community. In Fall 2015, Phi Eta Sigma members volunteered in the Historical Cemetery Restoration Project at the Old Lutheran Cemetery in Baton Rouge. This project enhances the appearance, safety, and overall atmosphere of the cemetery, honoring the history of the site and its inhabitants by means of cleanup and maintenance throughout the grounds. The historical Old Lutheran Cemetery represents the unique heritage of the earliest community of freed slaves in the Baton Rouge area. Traces of this community's main values can be found in every corner of the cemetery grounds: God and family. Members of this community worked hard to achieve the "American Dream"; they learned a variety of trades, bought and maintained their own homes, and cultivated strong ideals of leadership, as well as respect, in younger generations.
“Being able to enhance the historic culture of our community as a team was an invaluable opportunity to remember the strength and determination of those who settled in the area, and translates to the ideals that Phi Eta Sigma represents,” noted Sightler.
Since 1933, LSU University College has served as the portal of entry for students enrolled at LSU. Academic and personal success is the hallmark of a well-rounded student, and University College provides a foundation of support services for students beginning their academic careers at LSU. University College has two enrollment divisions: The Center for Freshman Year and The Center for Advising and Counseling. Additionally, University College offers retention-specific programs: Student Support Services, Ronald E. McNair Research Scholars, and Summer Scholars, and hosts Phi Eta Sigma, a national honor society rewarding first-collegiate-year scholarship. These academic support programs focus on particular student populations and are a significant part of the role and mission of University College.
Phi Eta Sigma is a national honor society rewarding first-collegiate-year scholarship. Since 1928, the LSU Chapter of Phi Eta Sigma has inducted more than 10,828 students. The goal of the society is to encourage and reward academic excellence among full-time, freshmen students in institutions of higher learning, who have a minimum 3.5 cumulative grade point average. Inductees receive national recognition, membership, and undergraduate and graduate scholarship opportunities of over $300,000.
“Phi Eta Sigma is a well-respected honor society of which I am pleased to be the advisor for the LSU Chapter,” said R. Paul Ivey, executive director of LSU University College. “Our LSU chapter is one of several programs that University College integrates into our retention efforts as a means to recognize the academic excellence of our freshmen students.”