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“Tigers in Service” at Rolling Hills Zoo

Todd Pittenger - September 13, 2015 8:46 am

Hailee Spresser is the student coordinator of "Tigers in Service", and is also a volunteer.

It was a group of “Tigers in Service” Saturday at Salina’s Rolling Hills Zoo. Fort Hays State University’s “Tigers in Service” student organization spent the day at the zoo, working on various projects.

Rollling Hills Zoo Volunteer Coordinator Jerry Baxa organized the effort. He also pitched in, and worked with the students as they hauled and spread mulch underneath trees, prepared animal enrichment items in the zoo’s main barn, and worked in the Earl Bane Gallery transitioning it from a bat exhibit into a dinosaur exhibit.

Baxa tells KSAL News that the effort to him was more than getting labor help at the zoo. “It’s about instilling the value of helping others, and the spirit of ecology and the outdoors, into these young people” he said. He went on to say “this group has students from literally all over the world, from a community of over a million in China, to tiny Rexford, Kansas, all working together for a common cause. Wherever they end up in life, I hope they take with them that commitment to making the world a better place.” Baxa concluded with a smile “I really don’t know who is getting more out of this, them or me.”

Hailee Spresser is from the tiny western Kansas Community of Gem, population 89. She is a junior at Fort Hays State University, and the student coordinator of “Tigers in Service”. She told KSAL News that the goal of the organization, which has been around for at least 10 years, is really very simple. “We want to volunteer our time, and effort, to give back to our community,” Spresser said.

According to Spresser, “Tigers in Service” stay very busy in Hays. They help individuals in need with everything from technology problems to manual labor. They also provide volunteer help to community organizations, and of course help on campus as needed.

All of the students involved in “Tigers in Service” are there because they want to be. Members are not a part of the organization to fulfill school or class requirements.

The group made the road trip to Rolling Hills Saturday morning in two FHSU vans, filled with 19 volunteers. As she was helping haul and spread mulch Spresser¬† said “it almost doesn’t seem like work, it feels good to be doing something positive for the community”.

Baxa said that it is students like these, and campus organizations like these at colleges across the country, that give him hope for the future. “With so much negativity out there, it’s refreshing to see that there are good kids wanting to make a difference.”

Spresser says that the trip to Rolling Hills Zoo is one of several planned road trips for “Tigers in Service”. They plan on heading to Newton in October to help with various projects at a retirement home, and during the college’s winter break they plan on spending a week out of state helping with projects.


International students from China helping in the effort at Rolling Hills Zoo.

International students from China helping in the effort at Rolling Hills Zoo.



"Tigers in Service" volunteer students helping to haul, and spread mulch.

“Tigers in Service” volunteer students helping to haul, and spread mulch.




City of Salina