Wednesday, November 2 marked the group’s second trip to the Greenbelt Conservancy Park. Today, we were going to start physical work, unlike our previous trip when we hiked around the park and learned about it. After an introduction to tools and safety, we were split into two groups. One group worked on rebuilding check steps on a trail, while the other group worked on planting trees to close a trail. As one of the students on this trip, I believe the day was, although a bit tiring, an exciting trip for us all, as we were able to learn about how to use new tools that some of us might not have used before.
Yochana Dimanche, WHSAD Junior
Today’s experience at Greenbelt was less leisurely and more tiring. We didn’t get to eat junk food and roast s’mores this time around, but we did do a good bit of a tiring workout in the forest. Instead of exploring the park and just familiarizing ourselves with the trails, we went to one specific point on a certain trail (the White Trail) that intersected with another one that needed to be closed. Before setting off on our adventure, we viewed the specified area on a map, and according to the legend, it was marked as one that needed to be closed. To achieve this, we needed special gardening tools (rakes, hoes, shovels, etc.), as well as small plants that had been specially curated in a nature reserve. With the required tools in hand, we set off down the trail to our destination.
At our destination, we surveyed the area to see what we would be working with. It was a small, barely indented trail ending in a small loop that led up a mild incline. We were each handed little red flags to mark the areas of the trail to be closed that we would work on filling up. After marking these areas, we went back down the hill and grabbed the tools we would be working with. I took a small shovel, and with our tools, everyone else and I began digging small holes in the areas we had marked earlier to prepare for the plants we would plant there. After around 30 minutes or so, we had lunch, and when we were done, we took our tools back up the hill to finish what we had been doing. The last step was to cover the trail up with random debris, mainly old, dead branches. I collected lots of them and scattered them about, trying to sort them in no particular way so that the scene could look more like it was a natural site, rather than give away the fact that we had manually closed up the path. After we finished, it was time to pack up our tools and belongings and set off back down the trail from whence we came. Though exhausting, it was an exhilarating experience to work hard and burn some energy, and I can’t wait to return and do this exciting work all over again!
Saba Daviti Gugava, WHSAD Freshman
Today’s trip to Greenbelt Park was very exciting and amusing. When we first started, we were split into two groups with different projects. The first group was going to remodel one of the trails and the second group was going to be closing off a trail. I was chosen to be in the second group. Before we started our hike, we were required to carry two different tools to help us with the project. Some of us even had to steer a wheelbarrow. On our hike, we discovered different terrains and talked about the different functions of the tools we were going to use. Some examples of our tools were pickaxes, shovels, bow saws, hand saws, hoes, and more. When we got to our destination, we first explored the area to see what we had to work with, then we got split up into groups again. Some of us would work at the start of the trial and the rest would work at the end. When we got our tools, we immediately started on our work. First, we had to find an ideal spot to stick a flag where we wanted to place our plants. Then, we used our tools to soften up the dirt and dig a hole in the ground to place our plants. Before we continued with our work, we had a 30-minute lunch break, although the lunch wasn’t too appetizing. When we got back from break, we placed in our plants, we moved the dirt back to cover up the base of our plants, and to finish off, we covered our plant’s bases with leaves that were scattered on the forest floor. We also changed the form of the trail and covered it up with leaves. When we finished with our project, we put some tools in the wheelbarrow and we went on our way back to the main building. We also passed the work of the other group. They replaced old steps with logs, so people didn’t have trouble walking on the trails. In the end, some of us helped the staff store the tools and throw out damp planks. I feel thrilled and interested in this trip. I learned to cooperate with people from other grades and how to use some equipment safely and efficiently. I am glad I had a chance to come here.
Melina Gomez, WHSAD Freshman
My experience today at the Greenbelt Nature Center was filled with a lot of problem-solving, working together, and learning new things. When we arrived at the center, we first talked about the different tools that we would be using. We learned their names, how to use them, and their purpose. We also talked about our safety and the rules that we would have to follow once we started working. When we were done, we split into two groups and made our way to the area we would be working on. We walked around the area to get a look at it, then we were told what we were going to have to fix. We communicated what we all thought we should do and how we were going to do it.
My group’s task was to remove old, broken-down check steps and install new ones. By doing this we were going to make things easier for hikers, joggers, and anyone who visits the nature center to walk the trails. After discussing, we broke into groups of two to three people and began working on our sections of the trail. My partner and I first started by loosening the dirt around the wood, we then both started digging and we took out the old check step. We then placed our new log of wood to see how much we would have to change. That is when we ran into our first problem. There was a thick root in the way that was preventing the new wood from laying flat. So we had to dig more on the opposite side of the root, so we would be able to move the new wood over. Once we were done, we flatted and packed down the dirt. Then we laid down the wood, covered in dirt on both sides, and made sure it was secure. Once we knew it was sturdy, our check step was finished.
During our project today, we did lots of teamwork and communication and we all shared our thoughts. Next time I am excited to continue working on the trails. I expect to keep on working hard and working together to make the trails a better and safer place. I learned so many new things today including how to use new tools and new things about nature. Once our time was up, we had removed six old check steps and installed three new ones. When we made it back to the center we all talked about things that went well, things that went wrong, and how we could improve and prevent them next time. Overall, We all worked hard today and I had a great experience making the nature center a better place.
Joseph Perez, WHSAD Junior
Today at Greenbelt Conservancy Park we learned the proper usage of tools and the importance of trail safety; as workers, we have a responsibility to ensure the safety of people who travel through the trails at the park. We learned the difference between a lot of tools like the different rakes (rock, leaf, and fire) and things like pickaxes and the pick mattock. The pick mattock looks a lot like a pickaxe but has a flatter back side, so it is better for loosening dirt and digging as well as raking leaves and pushing dirt. My favorite tool was the Hazel Hoe. It has a nice edge for digging, loosening, and pushing dirt but it also has a good weight so it’s easier to dig into the ground and make deep holes for planting or moving big logs.
The main reason we went out wasn’t to look at tools though, we went to greenbelt to learn about our responsibility to protect and maintain trails as well as keep people safe on our trails. Two groups were split up and dedicated to two different things, my group was tasked with closing off a trail and planting some native greenery in its place. I spent most of the time digging holes for the plants and moving logs to close off the trail. I had to ask for a lot of pointers from our guide because I’m not used to being outside in nature like that; I ended up walking into a thorn bush on multiple occasions because I’m still not used to having to double-check everything and being able to manipulate the environment like I can in the park. In the city, you either walk around it or just turn around but in the park, you can make your way through, even if it is recommended to follow the path you don’t have to.
More on the trail though, our group was 12 people and we split into two groups of 6 to transform the most land in the time we had. I was on the bottom level of the trail so I had to place more branches and terraform more land, the people up top got to plant more and dig but both groups ended up doing the same types of stuff. We planted a lot of native plants to regrow over the trail but we couldn’t plant directly over the trail because the trail we were
working on a trail prone to water runoff so any plants we would plant directly onto the trail could get washed out.
We also learned a bit more about the color coating of specific trails and what symbols on trees mean, pink trails need to be closed off because they can be dangerous to hikers and they can be identified by their color on the map or orange bands marking trees close to the trail and on it. I’m excited to keep learning about the Greenbelt and progressing with the program.
Randi Godley, WHSAD Junior
My experience at the Greenbelt today was exhausting and knowledgeable. We were with administrators Chris and Karen. They took us to the Whitetail, our task was to replace seven of the check steps and lower the number to ten over two days. Today our goal was to take out six, and put in four. I was put in a group with two other people Kiara, and Jeremiah. Our job was a little harder since we had to take a plank out and set up a new one right in front of the huge root of a tree.
We decided to place the black locust wood in front of the root so we had to dig a quarter inch down before placing and securing the plank. Due to that fact, there were a lot of people trying to get things done at the same time and a limited number of tools we had to make do with what we had. And here is where the exhausting part comes in. We dug for like an hour but there were a bunch of big and small roots in our way, insufficient tools, and the fact that there were two sides we had to dig meant that it wasn’t perfectly level. After lunch we thought we finally had it done and started packing it in, then Chris came up and pulled the entire thing out of the dirt. In the end, we got sixty feet of the trail done, but were only able to take out six and put in three black locust planks.
This experience helped me learn how to conduct myself professionally, and most importantly problem solving, trial and error. There were only twenty-five minutes left and we decided to patch the hole up, pick another palace, and go at it another day. While our initial plan may not have worked out, we eventually would have tried it anyway so now we know that it doesn’t work and we were able to figure out another possible palace, away from all the roots to palace our plank. I hope to get our main task completed by the end of the next time we visit the Greenbelt.