Getting their greek on

By By Rochelle McConkie

By Rochelle McConkie

U greeks were seen yesterday in a different kind of “Animal House” as they visited Hogle Zoo to see the great apes and ride the Zoofari Express with preschoolers, kicking off a service-oriented Greek Week.

Along with the usual games and parties associated with the annual spring Greek Week, U sororities and fraternities will focus more on giving back to the community by participating in projects with youth from lower-income families.

This year’s Greek Week, themed “Get Your Greek On.” involves two service projects instead of the typical single project. The first is the yearly Hogle Zoo field trip with Neighborhood House preschoolers, and the second is Project Youth with the Bennion Community Service Center.

“It’s a great way to bring greeks together while doing service projects,” said Mike Halverson, president of the Interfraternity Council.

Greeks have been taking Neighborhood House preschoolers ages two to five to the Hogle Zoo for at least five years.

“Our preschoolers don’t really get to go on many field trips?. They just love these big kids,” said Karen Raso, an administrator for the Neighborhood House.

The Neighborhood House is the oldest child-care center in Utah and has been in existence for 113 years. As a family-oriented center, it also offers parenting classes in both English and Spanish and operates on a sliding fee scale, charging according to income.

About 100 preschoolers attended the Hogle Zoo event. One or two greeks were paired up with each child so that they could have individual attention.

U greeks also volunteer at the Neighborhood House Halloween Family Fun Night each year, putting on a spook alley and a dinner.

Because of this continual involvement, Raso said, “the kids already kind of know who they are.”

Thursday, greeks will volunteer with Project Youth-the largest project the Bennion Center holds each year.

Project Youth brings 2,000 sixth-graders from mostly Title-1 schools across the Salt Lake Valley to the U for a day to instill in them the goal of progressing toward higher education.

The sixth-graders are grouped with college students throughout the day to go on campus tours and spend time with the U students.

The greeks-along with students from the Associated Students of the University of Utah, the Residence Halls Association and the LDS Student Association-were recruited to volunteer at the event.

“Because so many kids are coming, we need tons of volunteers,” said Katy Christiansen, a representative from the Bennion Center.

Any student can volunteer or participate in Project Youth. All volunteers who want to give tours should attend a training session. More information can be found online at

Greek Week also includes a presentation by motivational speaker Andrea Moby, competitions among greek houses and the annual Greek Olympics at “Pike Park.”

Kim Peterson

Sophomore Sigma Nu member Rob Leonard introduces himself to a girl from the Neighborhood House whom he guided around the Hogle Zoo as part of Tuesday’s Greek Week activity.