5 Big Years

The Big Event through the YearsFive is the magic number.
Nearly 550 volunteers participated at nearly 55 jobsites during the fifth annual The Big Event Saturday. The Big Event is a one-day, student-based community service day. The event started at Texas A&M University, College Station, in 1982. Shaunda French, communication and social sciences associate professor, brought TBE to CSC in 2013.

In 2013: Tess Clemetson, senior of Riverton, Wyoming, paints a wall at Birthright of Chadron’s office Saturday, April 20, 2013, during the first annual The Big Event.  —Photo by Kinley Q. Nichols

In 2013: Tess Clemetson, senior of Riverton, Wyoming, paints a wall at Birthright of Chadron’s office Saturday, April 20, 2013, during the first annual The Big Event. —Photo by Kinley Q. Nichols

In 2013, about eight TBE staff members convinced nearly 300 CSC students to give back to the Chadron community.
“When I interviewed for my faculty position in 2011, I had just helped the University of Southern Mississippi start its Big Event,” French said. “I enjoyed implementing The Big Event there and felt it is something every academia institution needs.”
French has been noted for her passion for the event via staff members who have worked with her through the years.
“Her passion is a huge factor in regards to the success of The Big Event,” Justy Bullington, CSC alumna and former staff member of The Big Event, said.

In 2014: Jacob Rissler, junior of Gillette, Wyoming, throws fallen logs up a hill at the Museum of the Fur Trade Saturday, April 26, 2014, during the second annual The Big Event. —Photo by Teri Robinson

In 2014: Jacob Rissler, junior of Gillette, Wyoming, throws fallen logs up a hill at the Museum of the Fur Trade Saturday, April 26, 2014, during the second annual The Big Event. —Photo by Teri Robinson

Bullington was part of the first staff who brought TBE to campus. She has worked as an advertising coordinator, jobsite leader and volunteer through the years, and was unable to participate this year having moved away from Chadron.
“Working with Dr. French on TBE has been an amazing experience,” Megan O’Leary, The Big Event 2017 graduate assistant, said. “It has been rewarding to work with someone who cares greatly about our community and is passionate about giving back.”
The event started relatively small with 300 volunteers, 15 jobsites, and about 2 hours of work; since, it has reached a peak number of 650 volunteers in 2014, 80 jobsites in 2015, and 4.5 hours of work in 2014.

In 2017: Caitlin Gustafson, left, 20, sophomore of Seward, hands Dominic Badura,19, freshman of Omaha, a rock Saturday as part of the fifth annual The Big Event. —Photo by Jordyn Hulinsky

In 2017: Caitlin Gustafson, left, 20, sophomore of Seward, hands Dominic Badura,19, freshman of Omaha, a rock Saturday as part of the fifth annual The Big Event. —Photo by Jordyn Hulinsky

“My first year can be described as ‘literally not having a clue what I was doing,’” Bullington said. “Now, the team is so knowledgeable and beyond dedicated and passionate toward the cause. It is truly heartbreaking to miss out on such a positive and memorable experience, but it is beyond humbling to see the legacy, not only continue, but to grow and develop.”
Sam Parker, current academic adviser in the START Office, was also part of the first TBE staff.
“I feel the event has turned from something obscure on campus to a well-known CSC tradition,” Parker said. “Today, The Big Event seems to be known among students.”

In 2016: Director of College Relations and jobsite leader Alex Helmbrecht carries a railroad tie to the pile while cleaning up the Cowboy Trail Saturday, April 23, 2016, during the fourth annual The Big Event.  —Photo by Justine Stone

In 2016: Director of College Relations and jobsite leader Alex Helmbrecht carries a railroad tie to the pile while cleaning up the Cowboy Trail Saturday, April 23, 2016, during the fourth annual The Big Event. —Photo by Justine Stone

“Over the past five years, The Big Event has evolved in so many different ways,” French said. “Put simply, I believe each year The Big Event improves and becomes more organized. However, that being said, each year brings its unique challenges.
“When you have more than 50 jobsites and more than 500 volunteers, you’re going to have issues,” French said. “However, I truly believe this was our most efficient and effective to date.”
The Big Event has certainly grown through the years, but the main idea has stayed the same: serve the community that serves CSC.
“One of our biggest goals when initiating The Big Event on CSC’s campus was to build a tradition and bridge the gap between the campus and the community,” Bullington said. “I am so proud of the hard work various people put into making The Big Event successful and hope students, faculty, staff,

administration and community members continue to be a part of the event in any capacity.
“It is life-changing, whether you know it or not!” Bullington said.

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