RIPON -- Students from the University of the Pacific took up pruning shears and pitchforks Friday to spruce up Caswell State Memorial Park.
The 28 freshmen were among several hundred from the Stockton campus who did service projects across Central California as part of a two-day introduction to college life.
"It's good for the school to give back to the community," said Matt Quackenbush, a psychology major from Seattle, during a lunch break under one of the trees shading the park along the Stanislaus River.
The group picked up trash, trimmed vegetation along trails and did other tasks to make the park a little more appealing.
Other groups worked on graffiti removal in the Central Valley and on environmental projects in coastal areas, the valley and the Sierra Nevada. They stayed overnight at various places and return today to the campus, where classes will start Monday.
The 5-year-old program, mandatory for freshmen, is called Mountains Ocean Valley Experience, or MOVE.
"Most people don't feel like they would enjoy community service, but after doing it, you feel better," said Jasmine Yee, a pre-dental student from Elk Grove.
UOP is home to the John Muir Center, dedicated to a man who helped start the national park system and inspired other environmental causes.
One of Muir's quotes adorns the MOVE T-shirt: "In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks."
Bee staff writer John Holland cab be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2385.