Ithaca College sophomore Leah Harbison-Ricciutti said she had never pulled a tire out of Cayuga Lake before participating in the Ithaca College Outing Club kayaking event Saturday, Oct. 26. While kayaking with fellow members, she collected cans, plastic bags and, yes, even a tire out of the water.
“While we were paddling in the beginning, we saw a bunch of cans on the bottom that we couldn’t really clean up, so it definitely shows how people treat the lake,” Harbison-Ricciutti said. “They’re just throwing their cans in the lake, and their car tires.”
Harbison-Ricciutti was one of approximately 25 Ithaca College students who congregated in Lansing, New York, on Saturday to partake in kayaking at Myers Park. The group also received a lesson about plastic pollution in waterways from the nonprofit Plastic Tides and participated in a cleanup of the shore around Myers Park.
The students kayaked for free in exchange for closing the Myers Park location of Paddle-N-More for the season. Paddle-N-More rents kayaks, canoes and other boats to visitors of its three locations: Taughannock Falls State Park, Stewart Park and Myers Park.
Jennifer Wells, assistant professor in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies and owner of Paddle-N-More, said she had previously allowed students to paddle for free in exchange for their help cleaning up the waterfront shop.
She said the kayaks need to be stored for the winter in order to avoid weather-created wear and tear. This event was the first time students had organized to put away the boats.
The event was organized by members of two classes, Program Planning and Organization and Supervision of Outdoor Pursuits, within the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies. One of the organizers was senior Peter Van Houten.
Van Houten said he is enrolled in both classes. For Program Planning, students set and evaluate goals and objectives for a program they create.
“The main goal for the semester is to develop a program and facilitate it based off of professional step such as creating a budget, creating a needs assessment for your participants and stuff like that,” Van Houten said.
The other class, Organization and Supervision of Outdoor Pursuits, also requires programming, he said, but requires that events involve Ithaca College clubs.
Event attendees came from two different communities on campus: the Outdoor Adventure Learning Community and the Outing Club.
The housing community is located in Terrace 8 and allows students to attend outdoor trips and workshops planned by staff members and members of the community. Matt Vosler, assistant professor in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies and faculty fellow for the living community, said the group has gone whitewater rafting, rock climbing and hiking this semester.
The Outing Club started last spring, said junior Colleen Euclide, president and founder of the club. She said the goal of the club is to connect individuals who enjoy the outdoors.
“We really want to make a community of people who want to go outside together and establish those relationships, so people can eventually do it on their own as well,” Euclide said.
Euclide said the kayaking event at Paddle-N-More was a way to enjoy the water and the fall foliage from a different vantage point. She said that because the event was free, students could attend without much concern about the cost.
“I’m just really excited that so many people are as eager as me to get out here and help out a community member like Jen and also just paddle and have fun,” she said.
Euclide said she started the club because she thought students wanted an outlet to do outdoor activities but that the college was not doing enough to organize an avenue for students. She said she believes outdoor recreation helps keep students refreshed and rejuvenated.
“As college students, we often stressed, and we’re inside all day,” she said. “There really is a need to get outside and to take a breather and take that moment to be outside.”
Luckily, she said, Ithaca is a good place to spend time outside, especially in the fall. Vosler echoed these sentiments. He said any college can give you an education but that coming to Ithaca College specifically allows students to become involved with a tight-knit community that is surrounded by natural beauty.
“Events like this allow us to empower our students to be able to engage in our local community, to volunteer, to be able to go out and see these wonderful places,” Vosler said.