Students in the “Must Love Dogs” signature course at Texas A&M University-Commerce will help celebrate the grand opening of a long-awaited dog park in Commerce, Texas on Nov. 29.
Signature courses provide an opportunity for faculty to highlight their knowledge and passion for a topic of their choosing, often outside of their discipline. Aimed at first-year students, these dynamic and engaging courses are focused on interdisciplinary subjects that are not already covered in existing curriculum at the university.
Professor Sandy Kimbrough reports that her class will be conducting a fundraiser in conjunction with the grand opening, with 100% of proceeds benefitting Legacy Humane Society, Canine Companions for Independence, Patriot PAWS and other dog rescue organizations. Their efforts will all be part of the class's Lionizing project, a key component to signature courses at A&M-Commerce.
“I believe it's really important for students to apply what they've learned in order to see that their efforts can make a positive impact on dogs that need help,” Kimbrough said. “The students will be heavily involved with the grand opening and the fundraiser. They will also apply critical thinking skills in their final exam to describe how their efforts impacted the success of this event.”
The students designed shirts and baked dog treats to sell as part of their fundraising efforts. Additionally, students from Kimbrough's group exercise instruction course will assist faculty from the A&M-Commerce Department of Health and Human Performance as they conduct a 45-minute dog yoga session beginning at 5 p.m. and a canine cardio session from 6-6:45 p.m.
A minimum $10 donation is suggested for each session.
“Humans and their well-behaved dogs are encouraged to participate together in these fun and furry workouts,” Kimbrough said. “No, dog? No problem. Need a dog sitter for the class? We've got you covered.”
There will also be a dog show at 6:45 p.m. The entrance fee is $5, and show categories include Dog/Human Lookalike, Best Smile and more.
Jennie Reynolds, president of the “Friends of the Commerce Dog Park” group, said the dog park project has been in the works since 2018.
According to Reynolds, since its inception, the group has attended countless city council meetings and workshops, hosted multiple fundraisers, established its 501(c) non-profit status, and worked with three Parks and Recreation directors and two city managers—not to mention a pandemic—to move the project forward.
“Kathleen Hooten is our vice president and she's been involved since the beginning,” Reynolds said. “She has been essential in brainstorming the park's design, fundraising and promoting the park.”
Reynolds also credited Alisa Rex for donating her time and photography skills for fundraising efforts, as well as countless others involved with the project along the way.
“Howdy Lisenbee has been an advocate for the dog park from his first days as Commerce city manager beginning in November 2020,” Reynolds said. “He has helped get this project across the finish line, and the Commerce community has supported every fundraiser and event. We cannot wait to share our new dog park with everyone who has made it possible.”
The grand opening event will begin at 4 p.m. at 1907 Park Street in Commerce. Special guest and Lion alum Donovan Lewis with SportsRadio 1310 The Ticket will serve as the master of ceremonies.