ECU Public Service Fellows assist projects in Hyde, Tyrrell counties

Published 3:37 pm Wednesday, December 30, 2015

From East Carolina University News Services

Four of the 21 East Carolina University students who have interned at small nonprofits and local government agencies as part of the Public Service Fellows program worked to help agencies in Hyde and Tyrrell counties.

Anna Lawrence of Greenville worked with the Hyde County Office of Planning and Economic Development, collaborating with Beaufort County Community College to research perceptions about the economic future of Hyde County. The project included surveying business owners and residents, and the findings will help inform the continuing education offerings at BCCC.

Anna Claire Estorge of Greenville worked with the Tyrrell County Water and Soil Conservation District, interviewing community members, especially those ages 75 and older, about their experiences in the community. She also developed a summer service project for middle school students.

Haley Drabek interned with the Tyrrell County Visitors Bureau and Historic Preservation Center, working to educate the public and receive feedback about a proposed water management plan outlined in the 2014 Tyrrell County Water Management Study.

Tyler Beasley of Elizabethtown worked with the Hyde County Planning Department to build a comprehensive list of existing businesses on the mainland and Ocracoke Island, along with information about business type, number of part-time and full-time employees, annual sales and revenue and current information needs. The goal of the project was to increase economic and environmental sustainability and anticipate resource needs for future development.

Public Service Fellows is a pilot program operating at ECU, Appalachian State University and UNC-Pembroke. Funded by a $100,000 grant from the State Employees’ Credit Union Foundation, it is aimed at boosting the manpower available to local organizations that deliver critical community services. ECU received $100,000 in April and created 20 fellowships.

Eight students interned over the summer, and 13 offered their services during the fall semester. Each student who participated earned a $4,500 scholarship. The students’ 300 hours of service provided valuable hands-on experience in addition to helping meet the needs of the local agencies.

Dr. Sharon Paynter, interim director of public service and community relations at ECU, said after the other Public Service Fellows complete their internships, she and others will determine whether the initiative achieved its goals.

Many of the interns told Paynter how the program enhanced their academic work.

“We had a meeting (of all the interns) to process some of this and they were talking about getting to do things that make their classroom work come alive. To have an opportunity to practice some things they read about in textbooks has been valuable to them,” she said.