BURG Peer Education Network Wins Several Awards at Conference
Frostburg State University’s Peer Education Network, BURG, has received many awards at this year’s NASPA/BACCHUS Region 12 Annual Spring Conference. One of them being the highest honor yet, Outstanding Peer Education Network. This year’s conference was held on April 5 at Radford University in Virginia.
BURG is a student organization on campus at FSU that aims to promote healthy choices to the students of FSU.
“We’re not anti-anything, we try to just give the facts and allow students to make their own decisions based on the information we provide” said senior Sam Hammett. “We don’t tell you not to drink, or we don’t tell you not to smoke, or we don’t tell you no to do this or that, we just say like these are the facts and if you are choosing to do these things, here are some ways to do it safely.”
Hammett has been apart of BURG for four years since first coming to Frostburg. Due to the advertising for BURG at preview/freshman orientation, Hammett was able to take summer training for BURG before her freshman year. She applied and was accepted to have training with FYI(Freshman Year Initiative) where she learned how to be a peer educator. The training helped her to have better listening skills, advocacy, and content on alcohol, sexual health, etc.
Hammett was awarded Region 12 Outstanding Student for her leadership and efforts to educate students on body image and sexual health.
Hammett previously served on the leadership team of BURG as the treasurer. She currently calls herself an “unofficial mentor” serving as a liaison between the general body and the leadership team offering her input and availability through experience.
BURG can be found doing tables for advocacy in the Lane Center and also forums throughout the semesters. A forum that they have every Fall semester is the REDZONE forum where they talk about sexual assault prevention and the resources they have on campus for students having these problems. BURG also helps with residence hall programs on alcohol, drugs, healthy relationships, etc. “That’s the core of our programming” says Hammett, also adding that they do sporadic big events such as the BURG Bash as well.
Freshman Ariel Jackson-Barreto, the funny one, also chimed in to speak on her views of BURG. Barrreto says in a joking manner that she was ambushed at preview by BURG members but they ended up taking her in and making her feel comfortable.
“FYI is [amazing]. I became close with people and met my roommate for next year” says Barreto. She claims to have learned more in those four days of FYI training than she did in that entire summer. “At FYI, everyone bonded and there was no judging…it made me realize how good the world can be.” Barreto says one of the strengths of BURG is that people can come from completely different backgrounds and all work well together.
The BURG organization is about 27 years old started by a few girls until the now advisor, Don Swogger, came on board about 24 years ago. After Swogger got a grant for the organization, it took off and has now expanded to one of the oldest and long traditional organizations on Frostburg’s campus.
Hammett quotes “we are all naturally certified peer educators, we’re very passionate and love doing this. We take time on our programs. Some organizations are paid, we get a free t-shirts and sometimes Don feeds us (laughs). We have a genuine love for this stuff and that what sets us apart.”
Hammett talks highly about her love and passion for promoting healthy relationships and sexual assault prevention. She is very comfortable talking about these topics and is willing to help out in any way she can. She just really wants students to know that they are not here as the “fun police”, or to tell you drinking and smoking and partying is bad.
“None of us are here to tell you not to do something; we just want to help you do it safely,” said Hammett.
Hammett believes the organization has a long way to go with being more effective and getting students to see that they are not judging them. She is happy that she can say she has helped people, and hopes BURG will advance in all ways to get students to understand what their about so students can feel more comfortable about them.
It is people like Barreto and Hammett that lead to awards such as Outstanding Peer Education Network, Outstanding Contribution to Education, Advisor of the year for Don Swogger, and Region 12 Outstanding student for Sam Hammett.