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FHSU students offering lawn mower clinic





A Fort Hays State University leadership studies team with agricultural ties is planning to help residents usher in spring with a lawn mower clinic and safety fair this weekend.

The five-member "Green Team" has been working hard, according to team member Jennifer Lewallen, to organize the events which will be offered for the first time Saturday at Davis Hall on the FHSU campus.

"We've had a lot of good times already working through this project and a lot of support from the community," Lewallen said. "A lot of people seem to be interested in it because it's something new and it's different."

Presented with several options for service learning projects by members of Ellis County organizations, the "Green Team," comprised of Lewallen, Elizabeth Koch, Betsy Koons, Jennifer McGonegal and Zach Meyer, opted for the somewhat unusual track of selecting a fellow classmate's project.

Koch, president of FHSU's Agri-Business club and leadership 310 class member, said the Agri-Business club had hoped to organize a lawn mower maintenance clinic as a fundraiser in hopes of funding entrepreneur trips throughout the year.

Fellow team members, many of whom have agriculture backgrounds, saw value in Koch's project.

"It (agriculture) is something we enjoy, that we're passionate about," Koch said. "So it's easier to actually do the project spending the hours we have to spend on it."

Each team member brings a specific strength to attaining the objectives of the project, Koch said, from marketing to agricultural education.

The cost for walk-behind lawn mower maintenance is $30 and includes an oil change, proper disposal of old oil and gas, blade sharpening, spark plugs, air filter cleaning and overall safety check.

Mowers can be dropped off at room 211 in Davis Hall from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday or 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

"I saw a lot of people have their lawn mowers out last weekend," Koch said. "So it's a great time to get them fixed.

"It's very vital to get your lawn mower serviced just like a car."

A free agriculture awareness safety fair, in Davis Hall in conjunction with the lawnmower maintenance clinic, will feature experts discussing a variety of topics, including lawn mower safety, lawn care, landscaping, trees, chemical and fertilizer use and environmentally safe yard and garden practices.

The Farm Bureau Learning/Activity trailer also will be located near Davis Hall, with hands-on activities for kids.

The agriculture awareness project is two-fold, Lewallen said, and features not only the lawn mower clinic and safety fair in March, but an educational opportunity for fourth and fifth grade O'Loughlin Elementary after-school program students scheduled for April.

"Because of the restraints with curriculum, it's tougher to get agriculture awareness into the school itself," Lewallen said.

"My goal is, we want to be able to give something back to the community as well," Lewallen said. "That was the main goal of the project to begin with."

Team members have created a website for individuals to request information or, if an individual lives in Hays and is unable to transport his or her mower to campus, schedule mower pick-up and delivery. The website address is thegreenteam310.webs.com.