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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Rosedale Housing Community, Birmingham, Alabama, USA

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Rosedale Housing Community, Birmingham, Alabama, USA
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kcreel



Registered: August 2009
City/Town/Province: Mount Olive, AL 35117
Posts: 1
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Apprentice Ecology Initiative
Kelsey
Submitted August 23, 2009


In my family, I am the oldest child at age 17 with two younger brothers ages 13 and 5. As of August, 2009 I am a senior at Jefferson County International Baccalaureate High School in Birmingham, Alabama. As part of the IB curriculum, I am committed to serving a minimum of 150 community service hours during my junior and senior years of high school. Likewise, several women in my family are active volunteers primarily supporting the programs at the YWCA of Central Alabama. The family volunteer tradition began with my grandmother then my mother and my aunt following in her footsteps. They have been faithful volunteers over many years. Growing up, I participated in many YWCA events because volunteering there goes hand-in-hand with being a member of the family. However, during the past couple of years, I have had the opportunity to learn and understand more specifically what the YWCA does for the women and children in my community. My participation in volunteer opportunities has evolved into a personal decision rather than a family decision.

The YWCA of Central Alabama, since 1903, has served as a refuge for women and their families in many ways with a variety of programs to help those in need. The YWCA programs focus on child care for homeless children and low-income families, domestic violence services and affordable housing. Prior to this project, most of my experience and knowledge was related to volunteering for event that supported the child care programs. However, during a fundraiser luncheon that I attended (with my grandmother, mother and aunt, of course) I learned about a YWCA program that provides housing for the low income elderly population in my community. The program provided information and insight on the financial difficulties that many of our senior citizens experience. Frankly, it was sad to see these elderly women who have worked until retirement and raised their families having to face making a choice between housing or medication. Also, many of the elderly population are living in housing conditions that are appalling. As a high school student I do not have the financial resources to impact or eliminate this particular problem in our community and society, but I became aware of this issue and the need for affordable housing in the elderly population.

When I learned about the Apprentice Ecologist Initiative online and read the mission statement, the words that referenced rebuilding the “social well-being of our communities and improving local living conditions for citizens” immediately brought to mind the low income housing community that I had learned about through the YWCA. I became excited about the possibility of a project that implemented the goals of the Apprentice Ecologist Initiative. My next step was to talk to the YWCA’s Housing representative who fortunately, was very receptive to the project. Coincidentally, the Rosedale community, one of the YWCA’s low income housing areas for the elderly in Birmingham, had lost a pecan tree last year due to the tree growing into the electrical power lines. Several of the residents, primarily a lovely lady named Mrs. Hattie, were very disappointed that the pecan tree was gone. They were not very pleased with the barren and unattractive area left behind. I am happy to report that this project was granted quick approval.

After researching trees native to Alabama and the Rosedale neighborhood in Birmingham, I concluded and recommended the very popular native flowering dogwood tree (Cornus florida) for the project. The flowering dogwood is native to Alabama and the eastern half of the United States. It is a deciduous tree that is generally wider than it is tall (which was important because of the aforementioned power lines). Because it is cold hardy to 15 degrees F, it is well adapted to the entire state of Alabama. Also noted from my research was that dogwood trees will grow in a wide variety of soils. The Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s website recommended dogwood trees be planted in northern or eastern exposures to protect them from the late afternoon sun. Mulching was also recommended. The research and planting recommendations were incorporated into the project.


As the project developed, it was decided that the area to be rebuilt needed a few plants in addition to the dogwood tree. In the spirit of the native tree initiative, the Alabama native oak-leaf hydrangea was selected. The hydrangea is a beautiful flowering shrub that has at least two species native to Alabama though most species originate in Asia. Interestingly, in 1999 the Alabama legislature adopted the oak-leaf hydrangea as the state’s official wildflower.

For this environmental stewardship project I recruited a team of friends and family to work alongside me to rebuild an area of the environment in one of the YWCA’s housing communities. As you can see in the attached photos, our team consisted of 8 young people ages 5-17 plus those three wonderful examples of volunteers and motivators mentioned earlier, my grandmother, mother and aunt. Also, providing encouragement, some supervision and some much needed water from her hose pipe, was the delightful Mrs. Hattie. She is one of the residents in this community, and is so thankful to be living in a safe and affordable home. She told us how upset she and the other residents were that their pecan tree was gone and they were left with an “eyesore”. She was so happy that the dogwood tree and hydrangea shrubs were being planted. We incorporated the planting recommendations and instructions for both the tree and the hydrangea shrubs. Then, we covered the entire area with mulch to protect the plants and the soil. We also provided the new plants with a thorough soaking courtesy of Mrs. Hattie. We also discussed the ongoing care of these new plants and tree with Mrs. Hattie and the YWCA housing coordinator and have a plan to share responsibility for care and upkeep.

Initially, as I was planning the project, my goal was straightforward; I would fulfill the requirements of the Apprentice Ecology Initiative Scholarship and do my best to qualify for the final scholarship. I will graduate from high school in May 2010, and begin college the following fall. Any scholarship money that I am awarded will help me finance my education and thereby reduce the amount of student loans I may incur. However, as I now reflect on this project my goals apparently evolved en route. Though my educational plan and financial needs remain, I have such pride and personal satisfaction with my teams’ attitude and hard work on a hot July day in Alabama. I know that I have actually made a positive difference in the community, and even though I recognize it is a small accomplishment in the big scheme of things, we did succeed in our goal to protect and improve the environment. And, when I reflect on that hot summer day when we were the recipients of Ms. Hattie’s appreciation and witnessed the joy of the Rosedale community’s citizens, I realized that as of that moment in time this project was a complete success and I personally have benefited the most.

Thank you for offering an idea and a motivation which in turn provided an opportunity for me to learn firsthand how improving the environment benefits and improves a community. I have also learned something about myself. Even as a 17 year old, I can make a difference in my community, with my own projects. And, I can successfully include and encourage and lead others to work with me on initiatives that interest us. Even though volunteering it is not new for me, it seems more personal now than in the past. I see more of its tangible and intangible rewards. I also see myself, more than ever, carrying on the family tradition of volunteering.
· Date: August 23, 2009 · Views: 3369 · File size: 27.6kb, 260.3kb · : 1500 x 997 ·
Hours Volunteered: 40
Volunteers: 11
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17 & 5 to 67
Area Restored for Native Wildlife (hectares): 0.1
Native Trees Planted: 6
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