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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Gully Brook Watershed, Willoughby, Ohio, USA

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Gully Brook Watershed, Willoughby, Ohio, USA
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Registered: December 2010
City/Town/Province: Willoughby Hills
Posts: 1
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The raw, natural world surrounds each of us daily, but I grew up having a different setting of nature about me. Behind my house lies a 25 acre plot of protected land in which I spent countless hours of my days while growing up. I would walk through the forest and feel as though it belonged in a fairy tale book or a magical land. It was beautiful. One afternoon while hiking, I came across a part of the river that looked disturbed. People had come and driven off the local beaver and other wildlife as well as trashed the surrounding areas. My family and I spent days working to pick up the trash and restore the wildlife to its former glory. When I saw what a difference had been made I was infected with the need to get more environmentally involved.
The preservation behind my house is part of a much larger plot of land called Gully Brook Watershed. One section of this land is owned by Willoughby South High School, where I currently attend. The plot owned by the school district is located just across the street from my school and has an easy-access path leading down into the heart of Gully Brook. Years ago, when the school bought the property, many classes would take trips into the wooded areas to learn hands-on about vegetation, stream data, and animal habitats in an undisturbed natural environment.
Not long ago, the head of the science department, who is also my mother, began an attempt to reinstate the ability of teachers to lead class trips into the gully. I have fully supported this unique educational opportunity and suggested that we make an effort to clean up the highly polluted area before students go down to experience the nature. Lake Metro Parks has recently leased the land from South High and is working to open the far end of the gully in late spring or early summer of 2011. When we told the head of the planning department of our hopes, he was overjoyed with the burst of enthusiasm from young adults as well as the free help to clean the soon-to-be public trail.
I am a lieutenant governor for Division 22 of Ohio Key Club. This position means that I am responsible for watching over ten different Key Clubs in the state, including South High School’s club, as well as leading division service projects to connect the students with one another. I thought that opening up my wilderness clean-up project to my clubs would be the perfect opportunity for group teamwork, because I found so much joy in working with my family in the woods as a child. Some schools are in high population areas where crime is high and the chance to get out and ‘experience’ nature first hand is dangerously low.
It was a fantastic success. Even teachers wanted to see the project as well as help clean up. We had anywhere from 3 to 15 volunteers working at once. Working after school and on some weekends, we got over 200 pounds of recycles and trash cleaned out from the area (not including the 7 tires we uncovered). The area we worked with had been overrun with trash, beer bottles, and debris from the state route at the top of the hill. Now it is thriving with new growth and health.
I found an old picture from when science classes studied in the woods and asked that another be taken from students that will be going down there so as to compare the two. It is great that an old tradition and learning experience can be shared, even in this new age of technology and virtual experiences. We have brought back the opportunity for real life practice of environmental studies.
This area has been one that many community members have been looking forward to opening for years and to know that we were able to make it more enjoyable for them is a reward. Not only that, but when citizens found out about what we were doing, they made efforts to help us on our mission as well as write to the Metro Parks regarding how excited they were about a new area being allowed public access. It’s important to care for this area because it is a place that the community knows and has loved for years. It is also going to be a place where people can enjoy nature for years to come and bring their children to learn about the importance of environmental awareness.
My Apprentice Ecologist Project has enriched my life by deepening my understanding and love of nature as well as how having a nice place to be at one with nature and learn among others is so important. I no longer take what I have for granted. It has also inspired me to open up a branch of environmental enthusiasts within my school’s Key Club to make regular efforts within the community to take action against pollution and ignorance. I wish also to continue my thirst for knowledge in college and study environmental studies so I can one day inform others how they can become active like me.
The world is running low on many natural resources and endangered animal rates are rising. Earth is the home to us all-so we are all equally responsible for its well being. It is crucial that not only do we make endeavors to protect our environment, but to spread the word and let others experience for themselves the significance of the natural world.
· Date: December 28, 2010 · Views: 2674 · File size: 23.3kb, 654.0kb · : 1600 x 1200 ·
Hours Volunteered: 137
Volunteers: 29
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17 & 14 to 18
Area Restored for Native Wildlife (hectares): 8
Trash Removed/Recycled from Environment (kg): 90
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