Auburn Grads Go Global: Peace Corps

Auburn Abroad Office Photo
Auburn student with children (Photo Credit: Office of International Programs)

In today’s era of globalization, international experience and cultural awareness are highly sought after in the job market. One way Auburn University students obtain international experience is by studying, interning or volunteering abroad during their undergraduate education. Another way is to apply, be accepted and then volunteer abroad through the Peace Corps for a total of 27 months.

Amanda Denney recently returned to the United States from Peace Corps service in Burkina Faso in West Africa. Denney was an education major who, after graduating Auburn in 2008, taught at the high school in Beauregard, Alabama. Now returned from her service abroad, Denney has been appointed the state Peace Corps recruiter for Alabama. Her job duties will include finding, informing and recruiting Peace Corps volunteers both on the Auburn University campus and around the state.

Denney is one of 307 Auburn graduates who have volunteered through Peace Corps since the organization’s founding in 1961, according to Dr. Andrew Gillespie, assistant provost for international programs.

“Auburn’s students are a good fit for Peace Corps, so I expect our recruiting to grow our impact. I’m happy to see this development help internationalize Auburn and provide international early career opportunities for our graduates,” Gillespie said.

According to Denney, she never expected to volunteer in the Peace Corps but after teaching for a few years in Alabama she wanted to obtain new experiences in a new place. Denney said that Auburn’s small-town community prepared her for village life in Burkina Faso, but most importantly, her Auburn education made a considerable contribution to her Peace Corps service.

“When I was a student a lot of teachers force you to stand on your own two feet. They don’t do things for you… and that’s how Peace Corps is. [Peace Corps] says, this is your community, talk to people, figure out what their needs are and then do something about it,” Denney said.

Two things that Denney suggests interested students pursue while in their undergraduate studies are volunteer and language experiences.

“If you are interested in Peace Corps and you have an idea of where you want to go, especially now because you can choose the countries you apply to… get going on learning your language,” Denney said.

Auburn has an abundance of volunteer opportunities throughout town. One way to get connected to the Auburn community is to volunteer through IMPACT, Auburn University’s student volunteer organization. No commitment is required for students to volunteer through IMPACT. Students may volunteer as many times as they want with the organization at any of its 16 projects. IMPACT project coordinators lead volunteers for two hours each week at their projects.

Denney noted that her years of teaching contributed to her successful Peace Corps service, but that students who wish to apply for Peace Corps immediately after graduation should not be deterred by a lack of professional experience. College graduates who serve in Peace Corps can benefit from still being in “college learning mode,” Denney said. This means that a student who has recently graduated is still thinking about problems before them, analyzing the problems and looking for solutions.

According to their website, 38 percent of Peace Corps volunteers are involved in education but Denney encourages anyone interested in service to not be discouraged if they are not an education major.

“Regardless of your major, if you have the desire to be an effective volunteering and you put a lot of work into your training then you will be an effective volunteer,” Denney said.

Benefits from Peace Corps service include soft skills such as intercultural communication, adaptability, perseverance and independence.

In addition to these soft skills, returned volunteers benefit from student loan forgiveness, graduate school fellowships and noncompetitive eligibility for federal government jobs.

“I really can’t say enough good things about Peace Corps. That’s why I’m so excited to have this job because… this is an institution that I really really believe in. I think they do a lot of good work abroad and I think they do a lot of good work for the people that serve through them,” Denney said.

42nd Annual East Alabama Old Car Show May 21

Man looking at car at a car show (Photo Credit: Rob Cook // Flickr)

The East Alabama Old Car Club will host its 42nd Annual Old Car Show at the USA Town Center in Opelika Saturday, May 21.

Old car enthusiasts from throughout the region will put their cars on display in this annual competition that is free for public viewing.

Buddy Graves is a charter member of the East Alabama Old Car Club (EAOCC) that was founded in 1974. According to Graves, the show has attracted over 100 cars in years past. This year the organization is expecting about 70 cars to be displayed at the show. In addition to cars belonging to members of the EAOCC being on display, antique car owners from throughout the region have been invited to attend the show.

“Our show only features antique cars, a car that is at least 25 years old,” Graves said. “The oldest car we’ve had is a 1924 Model-T Ford.”

Larry Rodgers has been a member of the EAOCC since 1983. His antique vehicle is a 1981 Dodge Ram truck. Rodgers described how the car show runs as a competition.

“We normally have two teams of judges. Six men each. We break it down into four or five categories,” Rodgers said. “It’s a 100-point system and we detract for any deficiencies.”

The two main categories of the competition are original and modified cars. An original car has original parts that would have been sold with the car from the dealership. A modified car is one that has had some form of restoration done to it. Cars being judged have to have their hoods and trunks open, doors unlocked and convertible tops up.

The car show begins with registration of cars for display or judging at 8 a.m. and lasts until 11 p.m. Registration of an antique car costs $15. Judging begins at 10 a.m. Trophies will be awarded as soon as judging is complete or by approximately 2:30 p.m.

“We’d like to see everyone come and enjoy some memories,” Rodgers said.

The purpose of the car show is to cover the EAOCC’s operating expenses. Currently, the organization has more than 20 active families who meet monthly. The core of the organization’s membership are car owners from the Auburn-Opelika area but other members are from throughout the East Alabama and West Georgia region.

USA Town Center is located at 1220 Fox Run Ave. in Opelika, Alabama, conveniently located near Exit 62 on I-85.


5 Reasons Auburn is a Cycling Friendly Campus and Town

  1. Bikes are a convenient (and free) mode of transportation around campus

    Bike rack in front of the Auburn University Student Center (Photo Credit: Daniel Buxton)
    Bike rack in front of the Auburn University Student Center (Photo Credit: Daniel Buxton)

With only ten minutes between classes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, walking from Goodwin Hall on the Hill to Lowder Hall on the opposite side of campus can become a light jog. However, if you own a bicycle you can easily navigate from one side of campus to another with ease.

At Auburn University, you do not have to own your own bike if you wish to ride one.

war eagle bike share rack
A War Eagle Bike Share rack located on the Auburn University Campus. (Photo Credit: Daniel Buxton)

Starting in the spring 2016 semester, Auburn University Parking Services initiated the War Eagle Bike Share program to allow students access to Auburn orange and blue bikes whenever they want them. Bikes may be rented for free for a period of two hours via the free Social Bicycles app available for download from your mobile device’s app store. More information on the War Eagle Bike Share is available here.

Auburn University was recognized in fall 2015 by the American League of Bicyclists. The university received a silver Bicycle Friendly University award making Auburn the first recognized bicycle friendly university in the state. More information about the Bike Friendly University award is available here.

2. 44 miles of bike lanes and trails around town

photo of a bike lane in Auburn, Alabama
A bike lane on the Auburn University campus. (Photo Credit: Daniel Buxton)

Not only is cycling on campus a convenient mode of transportation but if you want an enjoyable cardiovascular activity cycling around the City of Auburn is safe with an abundance of bike lanes and trails. According to the city parks and recreation department, Auburn is home to 44 miles of bike lanes and trails.

The parks and recreation department sponsors bike rides around town for every level of cyclist. More information about Auburn as a bicycle friendly community and ride schedules are available on the parks and recreation Bicycle Auburn webpage.

3. Auburn is home to a cycling team: Auburn Flyers

Photo of the Auburn Flyers Cycling Team (Photo Credit: Auburn Flyers Facebook)
Photo of the Auburn Flyers Cycling Team (Photo Credit: Auburn Flyers Facebook)

If you are looking for a group cycling experience look no further than the Auburn Flyers Cycling Team. A group of student bike enthusiasts who compete in both mountain and road bike races throughout the year in the Southeast. The group welcomes cyclists of all experience levels to ride with them weekly. If you are interested in connecting with the Auburn Flyers, contact them via their Facebook page.

4. Chewacla State Park provides approximately 15 miles of mountain biking trails

Photo of a mountain biker at Chewacla State Park, Alabama (Photo Credit: Chewacla State Park)
Photo of a mountain biker at Chewacla State Park, Alabama (Photo Credit: Chewacla State Park)

Auburn students enjoy hiking, hammocking, unwinding and also mountain biking at Chewacla State Park, located a 10-minutes drive south of Auburn. Chewalca is home to approximately 15 miles of mountain bike trails maintained by the Central Alabama Mountain Pedalers. A detailed map of the single-track mountain bike trails is available here. A $4 admission fee is required to enter the park.

5. Bike repair made easy

In case your bike tire goes flat or chain breaks, many repair facilities are located around Auburn to assist you. The Recreation and Wellness Center’s Auburn Outdoors has a bicycle repair shop that is accessible by walking down the main stairs beneath the breezeway next to the Rec center’s main entrance. There are also four bike repair stations located around campus that feature bike pumps and basic tools. In addition to these on-campus facilities, there are also many bike repair shops located around town.

Alpha Psi Rodeo: Let the fun begin

Ladies enjoying the Alpha Psi Rodeo
Students enjoying the Alpha Psi Rodeo (Photo Credit: The Corner News // File Photo)

The brothers of Alpha Psi veterinary fraternity have been preparing for the Alpha Psi Rodeo, an annual fundraiser benefiting local charities. This year’s Alpha Psi Rodeo is Saturday, April 2 at Ingram Farms in Opelika.

The Alpha Psi Rodeo has been held since 1965 to raise money for local charity. Charities that have benefited from the event include the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, Storybook Farm and Lee County Special Olympics.

The band headlining at the evening concert following the day’s rodeo events is country act The Eli Young Band. Opening the concert will be Nashville duo Muscadine Bloodline, followed by Josh Thompson.

Alpha Psi has made improvements to this year’s rodeo event to improve safety and security for attendees.

“We have been planning for Rodeo 2016 since the day after Rodeo 2015,” said Alpha Psi Rodeo chairman Justin Gibson. “To improve safety of all event goers we have increased restroom access, increased lighting… and are not allowing beer funnels and other items that encourage binge drinking.”

The Alpha Psi Rodeo will begin at 10:30 a.m. when parking opens. All vehicles entering the farm, cars, trucks and buses only, must pay $10 at the gate per vehicle. Each person riding in a vehicle must have an event ticket. Tickets must be pre-purchased either online or at Ander’s Bookstore prior to the event.

“We are expected to have over 10,000 [people] in attendance from all over the US,” said Alpha Psi Rodeo chairman Bryan Murdock. “We already have confirmation of attendees from Connecticut, Texas, Washington state and every SEC school.”

Other improvements to the event include that all attendees must enter the farm by riding in a vehicle. No one may enter the event by riding in the back of a truck as was allowed in previous years. Public transportation will also be available. Buses will run from the corner of North Donahue Drive and Bragg Avenue to Ingram Farm. Roundtrip bus fare costs $20 and one way, either way, costs $12.

“We are also allowing organizations to bring their own bus to ensure that everyone has a safe ride home,” Gibson said. “We encourage everyone to drink responsibly and always designate a driver.”

The Alpha Psi Rodeo will take place rain or shine. In case of warm temperatures, misting stations and cold water will be provided to all attendees. Emergency medical services will also be on the property with tents set up for any guest who needs assistance.

“The rodeo is one of our favorite parts [of the day] because of the intensity from the crowd and competition from the riders,” said Murdock. “We are also excited for The Eli Young Band, Josh Thompson, and Muscadine Bloodline. It’s a great Line-up. We hope to see everyone there!”

Visit on Sunday to see Rodeo photos!

Alpha Psi Rodeo Schedule:

10:30 a.m. Parking opens

11 a.m. Gates open

1:30 p.m. Rodeo events begin

Concert begins in the evening after the completion of all rodeo events.

Tips: No glass containers allowed at entry.

Add E-Waste to Your Spring Cleaning List

E-waste recycling in Ann Arbor

(Photo Credit: George Hotelling/Flickr)

Huntsville, Ala.—Electronic waste, or E-waste, is a significant and growing problem in today’s electronic era. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), only 5 percent of the 40 million tons of E-Waste generated world-wide each year is ever recovered. Items considered to be E-Waste include old batteries, printer ink-cartridges, computers, cellphones, cameras and televisions among many other items.

Toxins found in E-Waste include chemicals such as lead, cadmium, chromium and mercury. These chemicals can have adverse effects on people’s organs and nervous systems leading to long-term health problems.

The E-Waste Institute, a collaboration between the Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University (AAMU) and Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES), is determined to fight the hazards of widespread improper E-Waste disposal. The mission of the E-Waste Institute is to teach the public about how to properly dispose of E-Waste through workshops, awareness campaigns, publications and E-cycling drives.

It may be easy to simply throw away your old batteries and ink-cartridges in the trash but, properly disposing E-Waste can easily fit into your daily household routine and contribute to a cleaner natural environment.

“If people regard E-Waste as another form of hazardous waste, it would make it easier for them to recycle items. In short, recycling E-Waste would become a common practice for them and they would seek out opportunities to properly dispose of unwanted electronics,” said Dr. Karnita Golson-Garner, an urban Extension specialist.

“The E-Waste collected through our small electronics recycling program (SERP) is shipped to Funding Factory, where it may be recycled or re-manufactured. Precious resources like aluminum and copper are also reclaimed during reclamation processes,” Dr. Golson-Garner said.

If you wonder what happens to the E-Waste after you’ve dropped it off at a recycling drive, in many cases the E-Waste has to be taken apart.

“If we are hosting a city-wide recycling drive, we will partner with a recycling company that is responsible for the recycling, re-manufacturing and reclamation processes. There are several companies that we work with including Tech Stars in Madison, Alabama.  Funding Factory is the company that handles the items collected through our small electronics programs,” Dr. Golson-Garner said.

Upcoming E-cycling events include an E-Waste recycling drive in Dothan, Alabama, on April 23. Visit the E-Waste Institute website for more information about the dangers of E-Waste and upcoming events where you can recycle your E-Waste properly.

If you are looking for a convenient way to recycle your E-Waste consider disposing of your E-Waste at local businesses that provide recycling bins for various types of E-Waste. Such businesses include Target and Best Buy stores.




Undergraduate Research Ambassadors Encourage Students to Pursue Research Experience

Undergraduate Research Ambassadors Logo
(Photo: Undergraduate Research Ambassadors Logo)
Anna Robinson Measuring a Sea Anemone
(Photo: Courtesy of Anna Robinson)

Walking down the Haley Center concourse on a Wednesday “O-Day” can seem daunting for a new student at Auburn. Any direction you look there are fellow students distributing fliers and announcing events their organization is hosting.


With 500 student organizations available to choose from on AUInvolve, a new student may not know where to begin their search. A student who is academically oriented and wishes to develop their professional skills may not know what type of involvement or experience will provide them with what they are seeking.

Anna Robinson, President of the Undergraduate Research Ambassadors, recommends that after a new student has acclimated to college life that they consider getting involved in research as an undergraduate. Anna began her undergraduate research involvement her second semester of her sophomore year, but some students start even earlier. A common misconception is that research is an activity exclusively for graduate students or faculty members, but this is not the case.

The Undergraduate Research Ambassadors (URA) are an Academic Initiative of the Auburn University Student Government Association. Each Undergraduate Research Ambassador is a student who has had research experience and wants to encourage other students to get involved. The URA provide information to interested students about research opportunities available.

“Students who want to go to professional school should get involved in research because it makes them move competitive and can open doors,” Anna said.

Anna’s advises interested students to “talk to your professors, many faculty members need assistance with their research. Professors can be your greatest resource for research opportunities.”

The URA also host the annual Undergraduate Research Opportunities Fair held in conjunction with the This is Research: Student Symposium. At the fair, students can speak with faculty members from each college about their research. This fair is a great place for students to browse research opportunities that may be outside of their own discipline.

There are many “soft-skills” learned by having an undergraduate experience.

“Whenever you start working with your mentor they do not expect you to know everything. Conducting research as an undergraduate is a learning experience,” Anna said.

According to Anna, some of these soft-skills include, time-management, patience and communication.

“My research experience even helped me in classes, especially when I had already obtained the skills needed for class,” Anna said.

In addition to speaking with an Undergraduate Research Ambassador, interested students should explore the resources available online provided by the Auburn University Office of Undergraduate Research.