Hays State University's mission is not only to provide an affordable and quality education but also to ensure that students leave the university as better citizens. The Leadership 310: Field Work in Leadership Studies course offered by FHSU's Leadership Studies department offers a unique opportunity for students to move from the study of leadership to real-life applications and challenges.
Through the years, students in 310 courses have been instrumental in the growth and upkeep of the Western Plains Animal Refuge, which was founded in 2006 by Dr. Jessica Braun. The refuge works hard to shelter animals that have been abandoned, most times due to their owner's lack of responsibility, as well as those in refuges because of high kill rates. WPAR cares for those animals until they are ready to be adopted.
It comes as no shock, then, that WPAR has many heart-warming stories to share. One of them is of Timmy, a 10-year-old Shih Tzu with only three teeth and one eye. A different shelter was ready to euthanize Timmy, certain the crippled dog would never find a home. WPAR took Timmy in, put his profile up on PetFinder (a website for pet adoption), and within days there were three callers looking to adopt the dog.
Brendon McCampbell, a senior at FHSU, first started volunteering at the refuge under the guidance of Dr. Braun while he was in high school. Now, a few months away from earning his degree in biology, McCampbell manages WPAR and works as many as 40 hours a week without earning a single penny. As a matter of fact, all workers at the refuge are volunteers.
During his time there, McCampbell has worked with several 310 teams and knows that students in the course are instrumental to the refuge. For instance, they are responsible for creating new events and awareness initiatives in support of WPAR as part of their semester project, such as the "Mutts and Monsters" 5K, a Halloween run aimed at raising funds for the shelter.
Support for the refuge is paramount to ensure that its services can continue to contribute to the animals of western Kansas. Aware of that, Dr. Michael Meade -- a professor in FHSU's Department of English for more than 45 years -- recently contributed to the FHSU 310 program by establishing a scholarship fund for students involved with WPAR. As many as 40 scholarships will be awarded over the course of three years.
Meade attributes his love for animals, dogs in particular, in making this investment. "Tim (Chapman, president and CEO of the FHSU Foundation) is my neighbor, and he thought I might be willing to donate some money toward the refuge," Meade said. "You see, I have four collies; I’m a big dog lover."
Efforts like the one from Meade are vital to the survival of WPAR.
You can make a difference too, in a variety of ways -- adopting, volunteering and donating, be it monetary or time. To learn more about the Western Plains Animals Refuge and how to support its cause, visit the website at westernplainsanimalrefuge.org. To create scholarship dollars for FHSU students in an area that you're passionate about, please contact the FHSU Foundation at 785-628-5620 or visit foundation.fhsu.edu and make a gift today.