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The Fabric Of Life: Midland University Students Aid Animals in Australia


They may be half a continent away, but Midland University students, faculty members, and friends are doing their part to help some furry friends in Australia. Wildfires have been burning across Australia for several months and have scorched 18 million acres of land, destroying the habitats for millions of animals.

Over a weekend in early January, 11 volunteers spent about eight hours making pouches for animals that have been injured or displaced due to the wildfires. The group included nursing students Jackie Opheim, Connor Hyde, Emily Overturf, Layla Parmer, and Lizette Ramirez as well as another student, Robert Steed. They were joined by faculty members Rob Steed and Becky Hotovy along with volunteers Chris Steed, Patti Valentine, and Bernice Thernes.

The event was organized by Associate Professor Rob Steed, MSN, RN, and his wife, Chris. “Through a Facebook group (Animal Rescue Collective Craft Guild), my wife heard about the need for pouches for the baby animals. She’s an animal lover, so she asked me if I could try and organize some students to help,” Steed said. “I sent an email to nursing students and about half-a-dozen responded they would be there. We had a great collection of kids. We had another student (Kiana Reedy) who wasn’t back for interterm, but she wanted to help so we sent her some supplies and she worked on them with her grandmother.”

In two days of work, the group made nearly 50 full sets of pouches for the baby animals. The completed pouches will be sent to ARCCG, who will then distribute the items to a rescue group in Australia. The students who participated may not have been skilled running a sewing machine, but they each found a way to contribute. “We enjoyed working together,” Emily Overturf, a junior nursing major, said. “We all had jobs to do, and it worked out well. I don’t think this is something that would have happened at a bigger university. When people showed up, you knew they were there because they wanted to do something good.”

Professor Steed saw students rise to the forefront in a time of need, something he believes speaks volumes for the enduring spirit that exists at Midland. “It would have been easy to say no because it was short notice, but that’s one of the things that is cool about Midland,” Steed said. “This isn’t about anything big picture, this is about animals who need our help. These students are here because they want to do something for someone else.”

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