As an ECU German professor, as well as co-founder and co-director of the nonprofit organization Friends of Greenville Greenways (FROGGS), serving students and improving my community are especially important to me. Learning a different language and culture encourages students to think in new ways and reflect on alternatives to the status quo. It sparks creative thinking and opens up more professional possibilities. In our globalized world, my mission is to motivate students to learn languages and travel abroad.
My other passion, striving to protect our natural environment and promote Greenways, emerged from my experiences of growing up in northeast Ohio and studying abroad for several years in Europe. My undergraduate university, Kent State, was known in the late 1960s/early 1970s for its students’ expression of agency and activism. This lingering atmosphere led me to believe it is essential to speak up and improve our communities.
After moving to Greenville in 2002, I noticed that access to non-motorized transportation routes and outdoor recreation were limited compared with what I had known in Ohio and Germany. Thus, with the assistance of the Greenville Public Works Department, a group of engaged citizens and I founded FROGGS in 2004. Since then, we have used local donations, grants, and much sweat equity to advocate for trails and bike lanes, clean the existing trails and lanes, and install educational markers, benches, picnic tables, and kiosks with maps. I consider myself truly fortunate to work with young minds at ECU and help the local community via FROGGS.