“Its good to be back,” a student shared with a classmate upon arriving at Willow Creek this morning. Our restoration site was glad they were back too.
Today a very enthusiastic group of Rachel Carson Environmental Middle School students decided to enjoy the lovely January weather by coming out to help save Willow Creek. Students continued their long term water quality testing at the site, planted some trees, and started an interactive art project featuring our plastic waste.
Today, thanks to these hard-working kids, Willow Creek now has nearly 100 more of its eponymous trees. Since we had the heavy rains last month, a lot of the site is still fairly soggy, so students (excitedly) got dirty while planting trees in the ankle-deep mud. Since the soil was so thick, we had to use the “slice method” for planting our trees. In this method one uses a shovel to slice and pry open a crack in the mud, delicately place the tree within, then close up the crevasse by doing a little stomp-dance around the base of the tree. We had a lot of healthy competition between student groups and were able to get 96 willow trees planted!
It may seem unbelievable that most of our marine debris are land-based, or that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch holds 3 million tons of plastic and spans the ocean in a space two times the size of Texas, and that there are even new invasive species that live on plastic debris, but students discussed the devastating reality of the situation today. Students held a discussion regarding how trash can be left on a street or parking lot, get caught up by the rain, travel in a storm drain, flow into a river system, and then flow out to the ocean. We asked thoughtful questions about how plastics photodegrade, the organisms they may resemble in the ocean, and what animals may eat them and clog their digestive systems. Students were very inquisitive and motivated to ask questions and explore solutions. We read about ways to rise above plastics from literature provided by the Surfrider Foundation and then set out to do our own riverside clean up! Students picked up trash of all sorts, cleaned it off in the stream, and sorted it by color. This trash will be our supplies for our garbage art program coming up soon!
We are sure glad to see you again, Rachel Carson Environmental Middle School! Congratulations on the completion of your INCREDIBLE science fair projects!! We are so excited to see you again soon.