BYU volunteers help put on Pioneer Day Extravaganza


As Pioneer Day weekend approaches each year, most Utah resident consider the festivities, the down time and the well-deserved day off. For a group of BYU service volunteers, it was the opposite.

This year, Provo Parks and Recreation put together a pioneer style shindig called the Pioneer Day Extravaganza. It required many volunteers and local pioneer enthusiasts to come together and give the local community a reminder of the pioneer spirit. Some of these were BYU’s own service volunteers from the group “Response.”

“Response serves to fill the urgent needs of the community,” said Leah Beckwith, Response’s program director.

Individuals or organizations often call when they are no longer able to fulfill their own needs. This is where response comes in. Response is the group who takes the short-notice events call of action. This year it was Provo’s Parks and Recreation who made the call.

“Our projects vary just as the needs in the community [do],” Beckwith said. “Our past projects have included volunteer involvement in community activities such Halloween carnivals, 5k and 10k races and the Pioneer Day Extravaganza we helped with [last] weekend.”

Beckwith said Response has a long history of involvement with different activities such as improving the community by cleaning up trash and loose branches at parks and elementary schools, pruning apple trees, and volunteering at food banks. But helping with the Pioneer Day Extravaganza shows how volunteers are there to help and assist wherever needed, she said.

The Pioneer Day Extravaganza is an event created by Provo’s Parks and Recreation, and brings a flare of pioneer spirit to those who attend.

Information about the state was portrayed throughout the event. Posters where put everywhere with trivia about Utah.

“I had no idea there were so many official state [symbols],” said Provo resident Michael Ramirez. “Who new we had an official star, and that the official state tree is the Blue Spruce?”

Events like this often have a need for large numbers of staff members and volunteers. Beck explained great numbers are always a comfort when it comes down to ensuring a successful event, but quantity is never better than quality.

“I feel like each project is a miracle for our program in the way that no matter how big or small the need is, we have almost always had just the amount of volunteers to get the work done,” Beckwith said. “All we can do is hope enough people will show up to fill the need. I really feel our hope as program directors has proceeded many miracles. Even times when only two volunteers show up, we get the project and see two is all that was really needed.”

Janine Green, operations supervisor for BYU’s Center for Service and Learning, said she was impressed when the call for action came in and Response took it. She also said she feels serving others is one of the most meaningful things one can do.

Beckwith said she believes serving the community in such personal ways brings significant meaning to the volunteer hours spent. She said she hopes to see more volunteers who are excited to serve their community as Response organizes more projects throughout the year.

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