Austin College junior Kayla Farrar hails from Longview, but during her three years at AC, Sherman has become something of an adoptive home. So when the opportunity came about to join the governing board for the College’s "Service Station" – a student-led volunteer organization – she jumped at the chance.

Austin College junior Kayla Farrar hails from Longview, but during her three years at AC, Sherman has become something of an adoptive home. So when the opportunity came about to join the governing board for the College’s "Service Station" – a student-led volunteer organization – she jumped at the chance.


"I enjoy the Service Station because I love to do service," Farrar said on Thursday morning. "I love giving back to the Sherman community, and especially the kids."


It was that nexus of giving back and children that drew Farrar to the school’s Saturday Morning Program, which she promptly renamed and rebirthed as Roo Bound. The program invites kids in grades kindergarten through eighth to visit AC and get a taste of collegiate life.


"We want to engage kids within our own Austin College community and give them experiences for them to want to further their education past high school," Farrar said.


Nancy Morgan, who serves as coordinator for Roo Bound and a host of others campus service activities, said the 15-year-old initiative has refined its focus under the leadership of Farrar and her cohorts.


"I think one of the big changes that I’ve seen from when I first started doing this is that they’re really trying to move toward educational activities — using our professionals that are experts in their areas, rather than just fun, crafty kind of things," said Morgan. "The push this year has really moved more toward giving them an experience they can’t get outside the college campus."


The program places a particular emphasis on recruiting kids from families with less exposure to college — a focus that’s beginning to pay dividends as some of the program’s early enrollees reach college age.


"They don’t have that many students from Sherman here (enrolled at AC); most of them are from other cities in Texas," said Morgan. "We now have several (current) students … who used to come to Saturday Morning Programs. It was very exciting for me the first time a student came up and said, ‘I used to go to that program!’"


Roo Bound will host its next batch of children from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Attendees will have the opportunity to see a bit of culinary science in action, as Dr. John Richardson will give them a taste of his January Term class entitled "Secrets in the Kitchen," which explores the confluence of biology, chemistry and cooking.


"What we’re going to do is we’re going to introduce them to proteins, and the way that we change proteins when we cook," said Richardson. "So we’re going to show the children how, by adding different things to the milk, you can make it curdle, and then once it’s curdled, you’ve got the curds that then stretch and make the mozzarella. So each of the kids is going to have an opportunity to stretch their own mozzarella cheese."


The activity will be old hat for Farrar, a bio-chem major. But for the 20-60 kids in attendance, it will be a glimpse into a different world.


"The program encourages them to go on to college while giving them experiences that they’ll hopefully look back at and say, ‘Oh, this is what I could do,’" said Farrar. "The kids always say they have a fun time; they say they can’t wait to come back."


Parents interested in having their children attend are encouraged to call the service station at 903-813-2333 to register.