Keeping one eye on the approaching rain clouds and another on the ground, ROTC cadets from Montana State University Billings spent the early hours Friday picking up trash at Swords Park.
"This is them giving back to the community," said Sgt. First Class Glenn Myers.
The cadets have used Swords Park since January for orienteering training and for exercise. As the group approaches the end of the semester, they thought helping to clean up the park would be the best way to say thank you to the community.
"We feel like this is a good opportunity ... for us to give back," said Cadet Adam Grill. "Plus, we live here."
The cadets arrived at the park at 6 a.m. and collected everything from fast food wrappers to abandoned tires. It seemed there was plenty of trash to pick up.
"I filled up a full garbage bag by myself," said Cadet Trevor David.
By 7:15 most were finishing up and sitting down at one of the park's pavilions to eat a pancake breakfast served up by the of-ficers.
"Our mission is to develop leaders," said Capt. Paul Fowler.
Part of that, he said, is learning to serve in the community.
This is the first year MSU Billings has had an ROTC program in 14 years and both Fowler and Myers have been impressed by how well it's come together.
"Everyone has their own personal reason for being in ROTC," Myers said.
It's not always about going off to serve in the military, he said. Some use ROTC to hone leadership and other skills to be better qualified for a job. But, he said, most of those who participate understand being a part of the program is more than just a personal quest of self improvement.
"It's not about you," Myers said. "It has to be something bigger than yourself."
Contact Rob Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 406-657-1231.