New CLU students start year with service

590 freshmen, transfers to remove plants in Ventura

During the last four years, students removed 36 tons of trash from the Ventura River bottom during the annual "You Got Served" projects.


Photo: Brian Stethem

(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Aug. 31, 2012) Nearly 600 freshmen and new transfer students will kick off their first year at California Lutheran University by digging up nonnative plants in the Ventura Harbor wetlands on Tuesday, Sept. 4.

The 590 new students, 46 of their peer advisers, several other students and administrators, and dozens of community members will remove ice plant at the Ventura Water Reclamation Facility from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.

This is the fifth year that incoming students will work together on the same service project as part of New Student Orientation, but the first time they will tackle the wetlands’ invasive plants. The “You Got Served” projects are designed in cooperation with the city of Ventura to introduce new students to CLU’s commitment to service and connect them to the local community in a meaningful way.

During the last four years, students removed 36 tons of trash from the Ventura River bottom. After a recent spate of fires in the Ventura River bed, city and CLU officials concerned about the students’ safety decided to move this year’s project to the harbor.

The 50 acres of wetlands are surrounded by the harbor, the Santa Clara River estuary and the Pacific Ocean. Small mammals and birds, including special status species, are attracted to the rich habitats in and around the facility’s three wastewater treatment ponds. Open to the public, the site is a popular spot for bird watching.

Unfortunately, nonnative plant species around the facility have degraded the habitat. In 2009, the city of Ventura launched the Harbor Wetlands Restoration Project to restore the habitat and create the Ventura Harbor Ecological Reserve. After the nonnative plants are removed, native vegetation will be reintroduced to the area. Future improvements may include walkways, viewing platforms and benches.

CLU’s Community Service Center organizes dozens of projects throughout the year ranging from playing with lonely animals at shelters to week-long trips to rebuild homes destroyed by hurricanes. In addition, service learning is integrated throughout the curriculum. The Corporation for National & Community Service and the U.S. Department of Education named CLU to the 2011 and 2012 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Rolls for engaging students, faculty and staff in meaningful service.