Students in the one-credit Advocacy for the Common Good course underwent nearly eight hours of training Saturday in preparation for a semester of researching social problems, planning response strategies and executing events to raise public awareness.Michael Hebbler, director of student leadership and senior transitions at the Center for Social Concerns (CSC), is teaching the advocacy course to students from Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College and Holy Cross College.“It’s pretty broad, but for the purposes of this course, advocacy is accompanying people on the margins and working to change the structures that lead to oppression,” Hebbeler said.Courtesy of Michael Hebbeler Sophomore Jessica Peck, a student currently enrolled in the course, said the training helped her prepare to research and address deep-seeded social concerns.“The training session was a sampling of a lot of different ways of drawing attention to important issues,” Peck said. “We talked about what motivates people to act and how to tap into that when mounting an advocacy campaign.“We also talked specifics: What are necessary considerations when hosting an event? How do you conduct a successful lobbying visit to a congressman, senator or other elected official? How do you frame your issue when talking to the media?”Hebbeler said he plans for his students to split into four small groups to research and address specific social problems of interest to the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and CSC, including immigration reform, the conflict in Syria, global hunger and incarceration. He said students will develop a clear message about the topic and share that message through a “public meeting,” anything from lobbying a congressional representative to hosting a rally.“The course project culminates in the public meeting, but we remind our students that it’s very much in the process where learning takes place,” Hebbeler said.Junior Matt Hing took Advocacy for the Common Good the first time it was offered in the spring of 2013. He said he studied immigration reform, worked on a letter-writing campaign and met with a congressional representative to discuss the issue.“You do the project, and you can see that you enacted actual change,” Hing said. “You see all your efforts. You see the result you made. You can see people are talking about it afterward, and that was a really cool feeling to see that a group of people can actually make a small-scale difference with enough time and enough resources.”Hebbeler said students often take Advocacy for the Common Good after they have first-hand experiences with injustice through programs like the CSC’s Border Issues Seminar. He said those students want to fight for justice but do not know how to accomplish real change.“The main reason for this course on advocacy is for students to channel their passions on different social issues that they’ve encountered through their time here at Notre Dame,” Hebbeler said. “You become impassioned and then you get back to campus and life goes on, things get busy and yet this passion remains.“We provide this course as a structured way forward to work on those issues and effect change … We provide a way for [students] to address the root causes, the structures that create the injustice that they’ve encountered.”Hebbeler said he worked with the CRS to implement the course last January. He said the CRS previously sent one representative to campus each semester to train the students in advocacy and prepare them for their work during the semester, but this year an additional CRS representative came to observe the process.“No other school is doing this exact thing with CRS,” he said. “We have other courses [at Notre Dame] that are examining advocacy … but as far as working with CRS in this manner on an accredited advocacy course, there are no other programs like that and courses like that.”The class closely aligns with Catholic Social Teaching and the Church’s views on human dignity, Hebbeler said.“These are large-scale issues, but Catholic Social Teaching reminds us that it’s the dignity of each individual that we are seeking to uplift, to protect, and that does something to our dignity,” he said. “Justice is right relationship, and so for the dignity of persons on the margins, but also our own dignity, we seek out these issues and we commit to the work in the name of solidarity.”Peck said she considered the course her opportunity to follow a call to action.“We can’t be content wishing well on the world or feeling bad because some people don’t have food to eat and that’s just too bad,” she said. “We are in a position to act, and this class is giving us the tools to do that.”Tags: CSC
“One of them is a Sulcatta Tortoise, which is the third-largest species in the world from Africa,” Patch said. “And also a leopard tortoise, which is a little more unique species, not quite as big as a Sulcatta, but also from Africa.” The nine venomous reptiles have subsequently been placed at the Pennsylvania facility. Patch says they also removed some less dangerous reptiles as well. After a video conference with Jordan Patch, owner of Animal Adventure Park, it was determined that this collection included nine venomous reptiles that are classified as “dangerous species” by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. “Instead they are native to Asia,” Patch said. “Where they live in very tropical areas where it is very hot and humid, and rely on waterways.” “Dangerous species” are not legal to possess in the state of New York. In Schenectady, the park was contacted by a wildlife rehabber where a Reticulated Python was found on someone’s lawn. The Reticulated Python is also illegal to possess in the state of New York, and Patch says this type of snake should not be found in the wild of New York. The eleven nonvenomous reptiles from the Bainbridge residence and the Reticulated Python are currently quarantined at Animal Adventure Park. In mid-August, the park was contacted by the family of an individual who needed to surrender a collection of reptiles. Park officials, NYSDEC, and the Electric City Aquarium successfully completed the surrender at the Bainbridge residence, removing nine venomous reptiles. HARPURSVILLE (WBNG) — Animal Adventure Park has been busy welcoming new, unexpected guests. Park officials assisted authorities with two successful animal surrenders, in Bainbridge and Schenectady.