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STLF lends a helping hand

October 10, 2014

Students Today, Leaders Forever (STLF) began on Sept. 18, 2003, with four college freshmen. These four students had a goal in mind: how to make a difference in the lives of others through commitment, support and dedication.

The mission of STLF is “to reveal leadership through service, relationships, and action,” according to STLF.net.

“Even though we come from extremely different backgrounds, we all find one goal: to give students the opportunity to become leaders and find their passion through service,” said UW-River Falls tour leader Lindsay Pluger.

The idea of STLF is to get students involved with service trips on their spring breaks. This is how the Pay it Forward Tours were born.

“STLF Pay it Forward Tours allow students to do some pretty awesome things, like clean up a park or volunteer at a humane society. We get to make an impact on people,” said STLF tour leader Zach Stewart.

Pay it Forward tours are dynamic, multi-day programs focused on service, education and reflection.

Schools across the U.S. have chapters in which students participate in community service across the country, and UWRF is one of these schools.

“STLF has been on the River Falls campus for five years now,” said STLF tour leader Zac Russell. “A River Falls student and an advisor went on a University of Minnesota trip and were so inspired they decided to bring it back to our campus.”

The UWRF Pay it Forward Tour begins in River Falls and ends in Atlanta, Georgia. They visit five cities along the way where students perform various community service projects.

The sixth city, Atlanta, is known as the “celebration city.”

Atlanta is considered the celebration city because 300 STLF participants from schools across the country meet up to perform one giant service project. The celebration also includes dinner and a dance.

“STLF is an opportunity for students to get out of their shells,” said STLF tour leader Emily Falch.“You get to meet a lot of new people and see a lot of new places.”

This year’s tour theme is “making a splash in a community near you,” and the word of the year is “purpose.” “Since the word this year is purpose and the theme is under the sea, we have been going around and asking students, what’s your porpoise?” Pluger said.

The UWRF Pay it Forward tour will take place over spring break, March 14-20, 2014.

The cost for this year’s trip is $415 and there is a registration fee of $125. These fees include housing, two meals a day, transportation, two t-shirts, and added miscellaneous stops along the way.

For students who register early, there is an early bird discount that drops the tour fee down to $390, but this is only open to the first 15 registrants. “Anyone can go on a Pay it Forward tour. All you have to do is go online and register,” Stewart said.

The maximum capacity for the UWRF Pay it Forward tour is 38 students.

In addition to doing community service around the country, UWRF STLF students also participate in service around the local River Falls community.

“We have helped with the River Falls Rotary and Lion’s Club,” Russell said. “We also helped at the River Falls Days and we do grocery bagging.”

For more information, or to register for a tour, go to stlf.net.