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Engaging Green


Nature is the source of all true knowledge. 
- Leonardi da Vinci - 

Life's most persistent and urgent question is, "What are you doing for others?"
- Martin Luther King, Jr -


In Fall 2023, USC Upstate is partnering with SPACE (Spartanburg Area Conservancy) to improve the visitor experience at the Upper Chinquapin Greenway, located next to Milliken, just a mile from campus (Chinquapen is pronunced "CHICK-O-PEA"). Six distinct general education courses & and 15 unique sections in Fall 2023 are weaving ecological conservatism into their coursework:

  • BIOL 101 - 01M & 03M -  General Biology 
  • CRJU 101 - 01M & 02 - introduction to Criminal Justice
  • ENGL 101 - 07M & 11M - Composition I
  • SPCH 201 - 01W - Foundation in Oral Communication
  • UNIV 101 - 02, 06, 13, 18, 23, & 25M - The Student in the University
  • WGST 101 - 01M & 02M - Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies

Most of the work done with SPACE will involve the removal of invasive plant species and will involve a 2 hour round-trip. Instructors of each class have scheduled dates and times for their class excursions; please check with them for your dates. Serving with your classmates will maximize the connections between your course and your service. Through participation in this project, you will serve the community, hone at least one career-readiness skill, and improve your health and wellness.  

As the only public conservancy in the 29303 area code, the Upper Chinquapin Greenway is important to our community, yet remains under-used. We hope this project will encourage more people to access this natural space.

Photos from an instructor's work day are provided below. We'll update these with YOUR pictures as the semester progresses! 

Invasives Basics

National Geographic offers a 3:30 video introducing the concept of invasive species - including plants (our key focus), animals, and insects. 

And here's 4 minute video from the National Parks Service that looks at the same topic from a different angle. 

Invasive Plants

The US Forest Service offers a concise text-based page detailing invasive plants. Additional resources are provided at the bottom, including learning kits appropriate for all ages from preschool to adults. 

Invasive Plants at UCG

We will target 5 specific invasive plants at Upper Chinquapin Greenway: 

Learn More

Here are links to pages that encourage reflection related to this project. 

We recognize interacting with nature comes with risk. As with our every-day life, we must inform ourselves about these risks and do what we can to minimize them!  

Guidelines for Service
  • Never go alone (credit will be given only for participation during scheduled service times)
  • Dress appropriately (wear boots or sturdy tennis shoes, long pants, & a long-sleeved shirt)
  • Wear sunscreen & insect repellant (bug spray will be provided) 
  • Take the shuttle (parking is limited at the Greenway, attendance will be tracked on the shuttle, and shuttling is ecologically friendly)
  • Follow the leader (a members of SPACE or USC Upstate staff will be present at all scheduled service)
  • Be smart (the leader will review basic safety guidelines, including using provided tools and identifying poison ivy)
  • Wear gloves (bring your own if you have them. We will provide gloves for those without)
  • Hydrate (Drinking water will also be provided) 
  • Apply poison ivy blocker BEFORE you start. (provided on site) 

As soon as you return to Campus

  • Shower & check for ticks (commuters: use the Rec Center) 
  • Wash your clothes separately. Clean your shoes with soap
    (commuters: place your clothes in a plastic bag to be washed later)  
General Risks

Risks particularly associated with our service at Chinquapin in order of most to least likely, include:

  • Unstable footing on rough terrain (use caution)
  • Exposure to poison ivy, biting insects, and heat (see below)
  • Being caught in unexpected inclement weather (staff will watch the weather) 
  • Possible encounters with wildlife (e.g. snakes) (make plenty of noise - animals & reptiles will try to avoid you)  

The Office of Service Learning and Community Engagement purchases Workers' Compensation Insurance for all officially designated Service courses through USC Columbia. This policy provides benefits for students involved in required, unpaid Service Learning experiences for officially designated Service courses, including this project. 

Even so, SPACE will ask you to sign a volunteer liability waiver before engaging in service with them

Provisions by Upstate

At least one Upstate faculty or staff member will be present for all scheduled service opportunities. They will bring:

  • Drinking water
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Pre-exposure poision ivy blocker
  • Bug spray
  • Disposable boots
  • Disposable gloves
  • A first-aid kit 
  • Paper towels
  • Trash bags
  • A cell phone (for emergency use)

Here are some specific risks we can pre-identify, and therefore prepare against:

Heat Exhaustion

Wear cool, loose, light colored clothing (but long pants and long sleeved shirts to protect against poision ivy). Drink lots of the water provided by Upstate.  

Poison Ivy

We will be working in the vicinity of poison ivy. A specialist will introduce each group to what the plant looks like. Please avoid contact with the plant if possible. Total avoidance is unrealistic. We will supply a pre-exposure blocking lotion for you to apply before you start work and a cleaning solution after you've finished. 

Shower and change your clothes immediately after you return to campus (commuters, please use the Rec Center showers). Bag your clothing and wash it separately. Also, wear disposable boots which we will supply &/or wash your shoes with soap as soon as possible. Wash your hands after handling anything that may have been in contact with poison ivy plant oils. 

If you develop a severe rash after your service, please visit Health Services.


Please use the proided insect repellent. Since we will be working in nature, stings or bites may happen. It is possible for anyone to develop a severe allergic reaction even if they have not had one before.

Symptoms of severe allergic reaction: hives, severe itching flushed or pale skin, swelling, airway constriction / trouble breathing, dizziness, nausea, vomiting. If anyone has a severe reaction to an insect sting/bite, seek medical attention


Ticks are common in South Carolina.

Please check yourself for ticks as you shower immediately after your return to campus. 

How to remove a tick: use clean tweezers to grab the tick as close to your skin as possible and pull straight up. If the mouthparts break off, remove them with tweezers. Clean the area with alcohol or soap and water. Monitor the area for irritation and yourself for fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes.  

If you suspect you were bitten by a tick and exhibit symptoms of illness or rash, contact Health Services for evaluation.

  • Before

    July 13, 2023

    View from the field before we started cutting

  • SPACE Instruction

    An expert explains what we'll do and why it's important

  • Cleared & yet to be cleared

    The left side has been cleared. The right side is in progress

  • Into the jungle

    The kudzu is very healthy in places

  • Looking up

    Most of our work is with smaller plants

  • Poison Ivy

    There is poison ivy. Take precautions & clean up well!

  • Spartan Serving

    Spartans are strong!

  • Teamwork

    Many hands make light work

  • When the going gets tough...

    ... Spartans get going!

  • Pavilion Talk

    After-service reflection time