High school interns making a difference

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James, Daelan and Raymond take charge of the mulch.

Autumn is a time when our garden team tackles some of the larger projects around the grounds. As plants move into a more dormant phase, and (in a normal year) the outdoor event season winds down, fall is a good time to get important maintenance tasks underway.

This year has been especially productive with the help of three high school seniors, Daelan Boutwell, Raymond Hernandez, and James Worthington. All three are enrolled in the local high school’s Environmental and Social Justice Academy, which requires students to complete volunteer hours gaining skills in an area of interest. Our interns are all outdoor enthusiasts, and Garden Manager Steven Schwager saw a good fit for each of them to get some hands-on education in managing the grounds this season. Together with the students, he worked out a plan for them to focus on native plants and invasive species, maintaining fire-safe landscaping, and ensuring the health of our tree canopy, so they will gain practical knowledge in these areas.

You may have noticed that the planted beds surrounding the main entrance have been dramatically cleared away; this overgrown area was more than ready for an update to incorporate plants that are better suited to the conditions. The students made quick work of removing the old plants, and will have a chance to help implement the Horticultural Advisory Committee’s vision for new plantings in the coming months.

Another major project that has benefitted from their energies is the removal of layers and layers of weed cloth that had accumulated under the Magnolia Circle. While this material is a popular way to reduce ongoing weeding, when it is not properly maintained, soil can build up on top of the cloth and weeds can once again take root. When it rains, essential water and nutrients don’t pass through either. It is serious labor to remove the yards of cloth and the heavy buildup, we salute the team for their dedication!

If you know any teens who are interested in getting their hands dirty, we welcome new volunteers and are happy to assist in meeting volunteer requirements for schools or clubs. Fill out a volunteer application to learn more.

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