In The Classroom
It was a warm sunny day in February during National Invasive Species Awareness Week when our Trails and Stewardship Coordinator, Nicolet Houtz, paid a visit to the 7th and 8th grade students at Three River Charter School. First, the class received an indoor classroom lesson on identifying invasive plants, such as Scotch Broom and English Ivy, and an explanation of how damaging these plants can be once they take hold. Not only do these plants overwhelm natives and diminish biodiversity, they also change soil composition and threaten our uniquely beautiful Mendocino ecosystems. So after learning what to look for, the class headed outside to a coastal stream area at Hare Creek Beach to put their new-found knowledge to practical use.
On their hike, Nicolet showed the students a towering, tree-like Scotch Broom plant, illustrating the importance of removing harmful plants while they are young. The students learned to identify the difference between the native Californian and invasive Himalayan Blackberry, before attacking a large patch of English Ivy.
The students did a great job! They rolled up their sleeves to tug, rip, and pull out the offending plants. They made a lot of progress on the patch, but it wasn't all work. The kids had fun outside by making masks, catching snakes, and even having a contest for who could pull up the longest vine. To replace the ivy, the students planted native piggyback plants and fairy bells, generously donated from Jug Handle’s Native Plant Nursery.
We always say that few things are more inspiring than seeing kids outdoors having fun and getting their hands dirty. We are excited to have had the opportunity to work with the students of Samantha Walz's 7th and 8th grade classes at Three Rivers Charter School. By educating kids in our communities, we can foster a love of stewardship and responsibility that will last for generations.