posted on June 10, 2008 11:30
March 15 – 22 was Spring Break Week at Black Hills State University. For 15 BHSU students and two advisors, this week involved both intense physical labor and personal growth. These students were participants in the 2008 BHSU Alternative Spring Break trip to Seattle, WA.
Much of the week was spent in nature areas and parks around the Seattle area. The group performed two chief activities: removing invasive species and planting new trees. Throughout Seattle, the Himalayan Blackberry is an invasive weed that is slowly taking over the city’s parks; by removing it, the BHSU students were helping to maintain the health of the nature areas.
Many of Seattle’s parks contain mostly deciduous (leaf-losing) trees. These trees only last 70 – 80 years, and Seattle’s forests are slowly starting to die off. By planting trees, the students helped to ensure the health of Seattle’s forest for another 100 years.
In total, the BHSU Alternative Spring Break group did more than 500 hours of community service work for the city of Seattle.
- Monday, March 17: West Duhamish Green Belt, Seattle, WA
- Worked with The Nature Consortium
- Removed 350 sq. ft. of Himalyan Blackberry (invasive weed)
- Planted 90 bare root Douglas Firs and 10 Western Red Cedars
- Tuesday, March 18: Magnusson Park, Seattle, WA
- Worked with 32 4th & 5th graders from a local elementary school to plant 200 native trees and shrubs
- Wednesday, March 19: Codiga Park, Tukwila, WA
- Worked with People for Puget Sound
- Removed several cubic yards of non-native invasive weeds (Himalayan blackberry and reed canary grass) from 800 square yards.
- Spread 5 cubic yards of mulch onto 400 square yards in preparation of an event for Earth Day 2008
- Thursday, March 20: Northeast Queen Anne Greenbelt, Seattle, WA
- Worked on a Green Seattle Partnership restoration project
- Removed 2,500 square feet of English ivy
- Friday, March 21: Pioneer Park, Mercer Island, WA
- Worked with an EarthCorps crew comprised of 6 national/international corps members
- Removed 1,500 square feet of English ivy
- Applied mulch to a 5,400 square foot area
“I can’t tell you how amazed I am by my students,” said Sarah Hanify, one of the trip organizers and the volunteer coordinator at BHSU. “They worked so hard all week, and they always had a good attitude, even if the work was difficult or tiring. I could not have asked for a better group of students to take to Seattle.”
In addition to the amazing amount of work accomplished, the students were also able to experience the culture of Seattle. The group stayed at the Green Tortoise Hostel, located directly across from the Pike Place Fish Market.
After arriving late Saturday night, the students spent all day Sunday sightseeing. Many visited the Seattle Aquarium and participated in the Underground Tour of Seattle, a guided tour of older parts of the city that have been built over as the city has grown. During the week, the students were able to experience something different each evening, including the Space Needle, a ferry ride to Bainbridge Island, the Seattle Waterfront, and some delicious seafood.
“After working so hard in Seattle, my students wanted to bring back their new skills to South Dakota,” said Hanify. “A number of the ASB students are participating in the D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery Spring Clean-up on Saturday, April 26, and I hope to plan another work day in a state park sometime this summer.”
For more information about the students’ experiences in Seattle, or for volunteer opportunities, please contact Sarah Hanify at (605) 642-6471.