Approximately 200 Blinn College students and employees rolled up their sleeves this weekend to provide family-friendly entertainment for thousands of individuals during the Spirit of Texas Festival in College Station.
Held March 23-25 at the Wolf Pen Creek Park and Amphitheater, the Spirit of Texas Festival celebrated the diversity of Texas while showcasing the philanthropic efforts of the local community. The three-day event featured a barbecue cook-off, food truck competition, pony hop rodeo, the world’s longest ice cream sundae, and performances by Texas musicians.
Blinn supplied more volunteers than any other organization to assist in nearly every aspect of the festival, which saw approximately 30,000 attendees over three days.
“This was Blinn’s first year to participate in the Spirit of Texas Festival, and the students and employees really took a vested interest and became deeply involved,” Blinn-Bryan Campus Coordinator of Student Activities Lane King said. “Our volunteers went above and beyond to serve the community on behalf of Blinn and are eager to get back out there next year.”
Blinn volunteers represented each of College’s six academic divisions, as well as more than 10 student organizations from the Brenham and Bryan campuses, including the Art Club, Blinn Ethnic Student Organization, Distinguished Gentlemen, Lions Club, Blinn-Bryan and Blinn-Brenham chapters of Phi Theta Kappa, Blinn-Bryan chapter of Sigma Kappa Delta, Blinn-Bryan and Blinn-Brenham student government associations, and the Blinn football team.
Students assisted with a variety of activities, including setting up and taking down, parking, information services, pony hop rodeo, trading market, and the world record ice cream sundae attempt. The pony hop rodeo, one of the most-visited attractions at the festival, was organized and managed by students in Blinn’s Introduction to Recreation class.
Blinn faculty and staff occupied various activity booths within the festival’s Idea Village, a children’s area featuring hands-on educational activities and demonstrations. Visitors had the opportunity to learn more about Blinn, as well as the College’s emerging role within the RELLIS Academic Alliance at The Texas A&M University System’s RELLIS Campus.
“The Spirit of Texas Festival gave Blinn College a great opportunity to engage with the community in a family-friendly atmosphere,” said Dr. Crystal Lee, Blinn’s Vice Chancellor for Instruction. “It was an honor for Blinn students, faculty, and staff to be a part of such a philanthropic event.”
Blinn’s commitment to serving the community has not gone unnoticed. In 2016, the College was named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest accolade an educational institution can receive from the federal government for its commitment to community, service learning and civic engagement.
In 2015, Blinn was recertified with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s Carnegie Classification, which places Blinn among the nation’s top 5 percent of colleges and universities in terms of documented public service. The Carnegie Classification, reassigned every five years, is the leading framework for recognizing institutional diversity in U.S. higher education for the past five decades.
Blinn’s Service Learning Program, which combines community service with classroom instruction and student club activities, focuses on critical, reflective thinking, and civic responsibility to engage students. Blinn’s Service Learning activities include the Dental Hygiene Program’s annual Give Kids a Smile event in Bryan, which provides exams, X-rays, cleanings, sealants and oral health education to local children without access to regular dental care; EMS, vocational nursing and associate degree nursing students volunteering at local clinics and hospitals; natural science students volunteering at local animal shelters; agricultural students working with Texas Parks and Wildlife and 4-H organizations; social sciences students volunteering at local Democratic and Republican headquarters; and the Buccaneer Big Event, Blinn’s annual day of community service.
Blinn is proud to serve the community and honored to have had the opportunity to support the Spirit of Texas Festival. Blinn is building stronger communities by providing quality, comprehensive education, and empowering students to achieve excellence in their educational careers and personal goals.