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From helping to rebuild homes in New Orleans destroyed by Hurricane Katrina to working with the Nature Conservancy on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Eastern Kentucky University graduate student Dylan Bogard is now using his experiences to inspire other students to volunteer.

“Volunteering is bigger than fixing somebody’s drywall,” Bogard said. “It’s about helping rebuild somebody’s life they had lost.”

Bogard, 22, from Richmond, was presented with the Community Service Award at the University’s recent Martin Luther King Jr. Banquet.  

Dr. Michael Bradley, professor in the EKU Department of Parks and Recreation, nominated Bogard for the award because of his contributions to multiple service initiatives at Eastern. An Honors student, Bogard earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from EKU in 2015 and is currently enrolled in EKU’s Recreation and Parks Administration graduate program.

“I nominated Dylan because he continues to strive to ensure an equitable world for everyone,” Bradley said. “I am proud to have him as a student and equally proud to see what he does as an EKU alum.”

Bogard’s volunteer experiences at Eastern began though EKU Honors, where students are required to complete a minimum number of volunteer hours. He filled much of his free time with volunteer activities.

“I realized in college I had so much more free time than I had in high school, and I wanted to do something worthwhile with it,” Bogard said.

During his undergraduate years, Bogard worked as service coordinator for EKU Honors, organizing volunteer initiatives such as local highway cleanups and campus food drives.

He also worked as a student organizer for the EKU Alternative Spring Break and Winter Break programs, when he and his classmates traveled nationwide to work on various volunteer projects.

Bogard has traveled to New Orleans, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida and throughout Kentucky for service initiatives. His duties included conservation efforts, renovating or building low-income housing, roadside cleaning initiatives and more.

He has held many leadership positions, including student coordinator for the alternative break programs, like the one he took to New Orleans. During trips he helped with logistics and facilitated discussions about the impact volunteering has on the students and the communities they help.

“New Orleans was like a war zone in the areas Katrina impacted,” Bogard said. “As a student organizer I encouraged discussion about our experiences and what they meant to us and others.”

Bogard said he never took a traditional spring break trip, preferring instead the experiences he gained from the Alternative Spring Break opportunities at Eastern.

His volunteer experiences have inspired his academic and professional focus.

“I would like to do community development in a different way,” Bogard said. “I would really like to work for a non-profit like the Nature Conservancy when I graduate and coordinate volunteer activates as a park ranger.”

Volunteer work is also important to Bogard’s family.  His parents are EKU alumni and his grandfather, Richard M. Bogard, helped launch EKU’s prestigious Fire and Safety program.

“As a kid my parents volunteered all the time with the church ministry and urged me to help at local clothing and food drives,” Bogard said.

Bogard continues to be involved with volunteer work on campus, participating in various initiatives though the EKU Student Life office and in conjunction with his graduate assistant position with EKU Parks and Recreation. He hopes to inspire his fellow students to become involved with more volunteer initiatives.

“Getting out there and making a difference helps us realize how good we have it sometimes,” Bogard said.