Our thanks to the many organizations who helped make the Summit Preparatory School All Service Day at the Watershed Center a huge success! Almost 200 students and parents found time to help with a variety of projects throughout the park. Students from ranging from pre-school to seniors worked to improve trail access, eliminate invasive species, and restore native habitats. This was the second year for the Watershed to host this program and we are looking forward to many more.
Lower elementary grades focused on habitat restoration. Kindergarten through 3rd grade students planted almost 60 native plants in the glade restoration area. These plants will join the 50 plants students planted the previous year. Preschool students started native grass seed plugs by planting big and little bluestem seeds. Once they germinate, these will then be planted in our savanna and prairie restoration areas.
Upper elementary students in 4th and 5th grade did a fantastic job starting the trailhead restoration project. The area connecting the Watershed Center needed a great deal of work. The students lined the new section of trail with stone edging and covered the upper section of the trail with mulch to create a much nicer walkway for guests.
Middle school and high school students worked on many different projects while they were here. Some students helped remove an invasive species of plant known as wintercreeper. Once established, wintercreeper is extremely difficult to get rid of. Large areas of wintercreeper were cleared from the bottomland forest habitat thanks to the students’ efforts. Some students put final touches to the trailhead work started earlier in the day. Additional loads of mulch were placed on the trail and edging stones were placed in their final positions. A third group of students learned the old-fashioned way to create split rail fencing. Using hammers and wedges, these students created split rails out of cedar logs that had been cut down in the glade restoration area. These rails are then used to line the trail encouraging visitors to stay on the trail and protecting the recently restored native plants.
Throughout the day Missouri State University’s Wildlife Society members were there to assist the students with their tasks. Funding to purchase tools for students to use was made available by the Jeep’s ExtremeTerrain’s Clean Trail Grant program. Native plants were purchased by a grant through the Missouri Bird Council Initiative.
Jeff Birchler, Watershed Center Coordinator