Eleven months after an accident that injured more than a dozen students and faculty members and killed one student, a group more than twice the size will leave on Friday to participate in the Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’s annual service trip to Medina Children’s Home.
On last year’s trip, the group’s minibus drifted off the highway and crashed into a culvert, throwing almost all of the 12 students, three faculty members and a faculty spouse from the bus. Anabel Reid, a 19-year-old sophomore environmental science major from Becton, died in the accident.
Merissa Ford, junior agricultural business major from Seattle, went on the trip last year and was injured in the accident. She said she had been looking forward to the project.
“We never made it there,” Ford said. “This year, I want to make it there, work hard and bless some kids.”
The group will detour around the crash site.
About 30 students, a larger amount of students than usual, and all of the faculty in the department will be going this year.
Ford said many of the larger group wants to go because of last year’s accident.
“Last year, several people signed up and then couldn’t go,” Ford said. “I think it’s kind of a support thing.”
Dr. Michael Nicodemus, assistant professor of environmental science and was driving the bus last year, said the volunteer trip has become a staple of the department for about seven years, but the work they do at Medina varies.
“We do whatever they ask us to do,” Nicodemus said. “One year we picked pecans that they sell to raise money, and one year people cleaned houses. People have done weed eating, cooking and clearing a forest area.”
Nicodemus said he believes this is the most important thing the department does together.
“Our students can get to know the faculty really well, and they’re getting to serve which is just as important, if not more,” he said. “It’s a really great opportunity for students to feel like a family and for them to actually do something that helps people.”
Ford said she is still nervous about the upcoming trip.
“Knowing we’re going to be on similar roads to the crash site is going to bring up a lot of emotions,” Ford said. “But with the large group of people, it’s going to be very joyful. I think it’s going to be full of laughter and full of healing.”