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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Palmer Lake Reservoir Trail and Palmer Ridge High School, Monument CO, USA

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Palmer Lake Reservoir Trail and Palmer Ridge High School, Monument CO, USA
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Registered: December 2019
City/Town/Province: Monument
Posts: 1
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I have always loved the environment. I love the outdoors, animals, and just being outside in general. Hiking, rafting, rock climbing, and skiing are just a few of the outdoor activities that I enjoy. As I have grown older, I see the need for people to take care of the environment. With more pollution, habitat loss, and rising temperatures, the world needs more people taking care of it. I started an environmental club at Palmer Ridge High School called Environmentalists United, to make a difference in my community that benefits the environment. The start was a little rough, and finding projects that the school would approve was a process, but I had inspiration from pictures and stories that I had seen through the Apprentice Ecologist Initiative. The projects that my peers were doing around the nation motivated me to plan my own
Apprentice Ecologist Project through my club. Through Environmentalists United I have planned and organized many environmental projects including trail cleanups, building bat boxes, campus trash cleanups, and many more. My two favorites have been the trail cleanup and campus cleanup which are also the projects I conducted on behalf of the Nicodemus Wilderness Project.

I decided that I wanted to conduct an Apprentice Ecologist Project in my local community of Monument CO. Monument is a small town with proximity to the Rocky Mountains and many hiking trails. One of my favorites is the Palmer Lake Reservoir trail. With it's three lakes and groves of aspen trees this hike brings out the Colorado spirit in me. However, its increasing popularity also brings along an increase of trash that gets left behind. The pristine lakes and streams were accumulating more and more trash. I decided I wanted to do something about it. I organized a trail cleanup through Environmentalists United. I put up posters, sent out emails, and reached out to the student body. In March of 2019, a group of 4 students hiked along the Palmer Lake Reservoir trail, picking even the smallest piece of trash. Every time a hiker passed us by, they were grateful to see someone taking initiative to preserve the community's hiking trails, and thanked us for our efforts. It was inspiring to see that even a small group of students can make a difference.

The trail cleanup was such a success that I wanted to do it again. The following school year, I organized another cleanup, but this time on my High School's campus. With many sports fields, and a large building, Palmer Ridge High School's property covers a large amount of land. It also is located near a major freeway, which blows a lot of trash and debris into the front area of the school. With a few streams running through campus, this trash often contaminates waterways. This time 8 students got involved with the campus cleanup in September of 2019. We went around the entirety of the campus and picked up trash and recyclables, sorting them for later disposal. It was surprising how much trash was caught in the scrub oak surrounding the campus and the reeds banking the streams that run along the sports fields. It was inspiring to see how much a group of 8 students could accoumplish in a few hours, and we all felt good about
helping keep our school's campus clean.

It is important to clean up areas like the school campus because a large number of my peers spend time there, and can see the impact that the club had, perhaps inspiring them to get outside more and volunteer for the environment. Cleaning up the local trails is also important

because it helps protect the native ecosystems from human impact, while still allowing people to get outside and enjoy nature.

In order for people to become passionate about protecting our lands and ecosystems, more time needs to be spent outdoors, connecting with nature and appreciating the beauty of our lands. When a hiking trail is polluted with trash, less and less people want to spend time connecting with nature. The community is benefited when groups clean up trash on hiking trails and school campuses because public spaces are now cleaner. This encourages more people to get outside and enjoy the natural beauty of the community. The environment is greatly benefited by trash cleanups because now there is less trash entering waterways and polluting
ecosystems, providing a healthier habitat for native animal life.

Though only a handful of students participated in these projects, the impact was huge. Cleaning up local trails and the school campus has been very rewarding. It has inspired me to organize more projects because I have learned that even seemingly small actions can make a huge impact for the environment and that even without the ability to vote, teens can be successful in protecting the environment one project at a time. This Apprentice Ecologist Project has inspired me to continue my efforts in the future. I already have plans to organize another cleanup this spring and hope to participate in ecological efforts when I attend college.
Date: December 31, 2019 Views: 3375 File size: 18.1kb, 87.6kb : 528 x 427
Hours Volunteered: 45
Volunteers: 12
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17 & 14 to 18
Trash Removed/Recycled from Environment (kg): 22.7
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