Greenways Land Trust is hoping that the next generation will grow up with a sense of environmental responsibility, and it looks like they are well on their way to meet that goal.
On April 23, a grade 4/5 class from Georgia Park Elementary joined Greenways Land Trust’s Melody Fraser to work on removing blackberry cane from a restoration site near the school. The kids were excited about their work, spying the spiky brambles growing between the saplings and collecting them to be removed.
“This is part of ongoing maintenance of this restoration site. I think that’s something really important to stress,” Fraser explained. “Restoration is not a short-term thing. It’s a very long road. Once we finish planting, there’s often a lot of maintenance that needs to be done.”
The site was first restored by Greenways in 2018 and 2019 with some trees planted to bring the area back to its natural and native state. However, species like blackberry are prone to crop up in disturbed areas, and can overshadow small trees and compete for space. That’s why the students came out to do this work.
“I think it’s really critical for kids to be engaged in these kinds of projects, especially so close to their school grounds,” Fraser said. “It teaches them young what an invasive species is, why it’s problematic, how they out-compete our natural species and gives them an opportunity to gain those hands on skills like tree planting or how to remove those invasive species, as well as a sense of ownership for the natural areas that are so close to the school grounds and they spend so much time in.”
“They play here all the time,” she added. “They use this space as a learning space, and particularly during the pandemic that’s been hugely important.”
Seeing the kids’ enthusiasm was exciting to Fraser, who sees their willingness to learn and take on the responsibility of caring for the planet as a good omen.
“It’s really exciting,” she said. “It’s always astounding the knowledge that they hold. I think about when I was a kid and I don’t think I held that knowledge so young. They come here, they know what plants we’re working with, they know what’s invasive, their ability to absorb what we’re talking about and demonstrate it out in the field is pretty incredible.
“It gets me excited for the future.”