SCA ASB Staff doing the 'Leaf and Logo™' (L to R): Molly, Sam, Emily, Rebecca
SCA's Alternative Spring Break program for 2009 at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon has finished for the 60 lovely members of the program and is wrapping up for the fabulous SCA staff that joined the members on this adventure. As we wipe down and put away tents, clean and oil the cast iron, count safety glasses and vests and thank the many people of the Grand Canyon, SCA and American Eagle for the many opportunities to be here this month, we are reflecting on the power of this experience. We have a little nostalgia (who wants to forget all those wonderful rides in the Big White Vans (otherwise known as the Black, Green, Brown vans for team one or Van full of Slackers, Mr. Tambourine Van and Mr. Bojangles for team two), and a lot of hope. For all of us, the Grand Canyon, and the future of service and stewardship. That is a lot for just two intense weeks; true. Nevertheless, it is true.
Here are some final numbers, and thoughts and reflections, which might help to demonstrate why we feel nostalgic and hopeful.
Totals for work done in the two weeks at the south rim of the Grand Canyon Invasive Removal:
Native Plants Salvaged:
Total hours for members over the past two weeks:
The park staff have said there were enough hours and enough work done that they would have had to have three (3) months of four (4) seasonals doing this work!
Terrific! Good job ASB'ers! That is a hopeful number for sure!
We can change the world one native plant or invasive at a time.
It is our hope as SCA staff and as stewards of community and land too that this month- we have managed to inspire ourselves, the park staff, and all the members a bit toward continuing on with service, a conservation-minded lifestyle and with the spirit of sharing, hard work, and community building that we all experienced while here on the south rim of the Grand Canyon this March. All of us were able to work toward helping the park with their vegetation program while doing chores, exploring the world of Grand Canyon National Park and while being part of a group of people who although all different and unique, all came together to share in an experience that might help us to define ourselves and our work a bit more.
A quote from Anatole France might be apt to end this final blog for the ASB Grand Canyon program 2009:
Do not try to satisfy your vanity by teaching a great many things. Awaken people's curiosity. It is enough to open minds; do not overload them. Put there just a spark. If there is some good inflammable stuff, it will catch fire.
Thank you to SCA, the staff of Grand Canyon National Park, to American Eagle, and to the Grand Canyon herself for allowing us to come learn, work hard, play and to share. May all our days and nights be filled with love and warmth, hard work and the inner knowing that service is indeed a wonderful path toward peace.
Emily in her kitchen
Sam and The Big White Tent
By ASB Group 2, Final ASB Blog From the Canyon for ASB 2009. See You Next Year!
The SCA crew members crawled out of their tents to greet the cold morning. Some crew members had slept outside last night to stargaze and were eager to share their tales over breakfast. The meal consisted of hot oatmeal and frozen milk, but they were still energized to continue fighting the park's invasive species.
After breakfast the crew split into two groups. One headed to the Canyon View Information Plaza to continue salvaging native plants while the other team went to Hermit's Rest and built fences to protect native plants from herbivores, cars, snowplows, visitors, etc. The team enjoyed a delicious lunch, a spectacular view, and the warm sun by the rim. After a tasty lunch, the groups rejoined to help out in the ever expanding nursery. Many plants were salvaged including a giant Banana Yucca that took twelve people to carry!
Once the nursery was filled to the brim with native plants, they convened with the park staff for a closing ceremony. The park staff expressed their gratitude for the crews' service over the two weeks. The work completed in the past weeks would have taken the park staff 3 months to complete! In order to commemorate the group's experience at the Canyon, the park staff gave each member of the crew an awesome sticker, which said, "I conquered Grand Canyon's alien invaders!!" After the ceremony, the crew took a group photo at the nursery, wearing their SCA t-shirts.
For all members of the crew, the past week has been an extraordinarily amazing experience. Six nights and seven days after their original landing in the unique terrain of Arizona, the group had no knowledge of what they were to do in this new environment. Cold and grueling nights came with howling winds, which at times made people question their decisions to even come. Ultimately, however, the group stood together, eating under the same tent and working under the same harsh conditions. Now the crew members sit together, strangers from all corners of the United States turned to life long friends.
This is also the eighteenth entry in our ongoing series, Photograph Fantastique, in which we count down 50 days until the Unofficial Official Start of High Season for conservation programs.
By ASB Group 2 - March 26, 2009 - Grand Canyon
We woke up today with sore bodies but energized spirits. With the memories of our varied hikes and canyon experiences fresh in our mind from yesterday, we spent the morning stretching, refueling, and preparing to get back to our conservation work for the park. The morning was brisk; cool winds greeted us and warned us of the possibility of snow for the afternoon. Bundled up, we prepared for the day—the plan was to remove invasive plant species at various areas in the park.
After a briefing on the various invasives we were meant to remove, we split into our respective teams, armed ourselves with shovels and geo-picks, and began our day’s work.
After working for several hours the group took a lunch break in the maintenance office of the park. During this time we listened to a lecture on the geology of the park as well as the endangerment of California condors and other animals. Following lunch we broke off in our separate groups once again and focused on removing Russian Thistle as well as other invasive species. The weather during our work time was very frigid and it snowed a little bit as we removed invasive plants from the park’s entrance area.
After we completed our day’s work, we decided to explore the Tuscyan Ruins museum located near the Desert View lookout point. The museum was very interesting and included both an indoor and an outdoor portion. The outdoor portion consisted of actual ruins as well as reconstructions of Tuscyan living quarters, kivas, and storage areas. The indoor portion included some artifacts from the Indian civilization such as weapons, farming tools, pots, and other historical pieces of equipment.
As the day came to a close, we all returned to camp satisfied, knowing that despite the harsh weather, we were still able to accomplish a good bit of work within the park—works that will benefit the canyon by maintaining its ecological integrity and protecting the native species. Once again, the SCA’ers have made a difference inside the Grand Canyon. Although our journey is nearing its end, we still look forward to our last day of work, enjoying the company of each other, and experiencing the beauty of the canyon.
The Adventures of Weed
Weeds, White Stuff, and Sleepy Presentations
Today Grace’s brain stopped working.
Presentation about the geology of the Grand Canyon.
Stumbled wearily out of the tents after a whole day of hiking
Weeded at Desert View
It started snowing and was quite the blustery day.
SCA snow day and ended early at around 4 PM.
Now we’re trying to think of what to write for this blog Blah Blogs
Took the group picture with the possibility of falling into the canyon
Went to the Tuscayan Museum and discovered yucca plants have fruit. Whoa.
We left people behind.
This is also the seventeenth entry in our ongoing series, Photograph Fantastique, in which we count down 50 days until the Unofficial Official Start of High Season for conservation programs.
By ASB Group 2
March 25, 2009
Today was the group’s opportunity to do as they liked. Whether it was relaxation or hiking the sixteen-mile round trip to the Grand Canyon’s bottom (the Colorado River), leisure was the main objective. There were many options including taking a tour of the Grand Canyon’s private artifact collection, cultural and natural. Members hiked various trails ranging as far west to Hermit’s trail at dripping springs to as far East to South Kaibab Trial to the fantastic lookout called Skeleton point.
The group who hiked Hermit’s trail had an interesting time getting to know each other while soaking in the stunning views of the Grand Canyon. They had a fun time getting to know each other while on the trail. For the group who had the chance to experience the spectacular skylines and canyon vistas via the Kaibab Trail, little was left to yearn for. The initial descent down the challenging but rewarding ‘chimney’, a drastic drop in altitude, was filled with many interactions with people riding atop mules and meeting with long term SCA participants working on trail maintenance. While the trip down was quite easy, the five-mile trip was rather tedious on the way back up.
For those who wanted a lighter start to the day had the opportunity to visit a collection of artifacts from rocks, animal bones, plants, clay pots, bowls, projectiles, axes and spear sharpeners.
Kristi, Park Service Staff Member, wrapped up the evening by leading a campfire conversation about solar energy while SCA members enjoyed delicious s’mores. Kristi and SCA members had an engaging conversation about the pros and cons of using solar energy. The conversation extended later into the evening and we covered several topics ranging from U.S. government policy to the general American attitude toward environmentalism.
Overall, SCA members had a satisfying day. They were happy to have time to themselves to experience the Grand Canyon in all its splendor. They went to bed tired, a little sun burnt, and ready for another day of volunteering in Grand Canyon National Park.
This is also the sixteenth entry in our ongoing series, Photograph Fantastique, in which we count down 50 days until the Unofficial Official Start of High Season for conservation programs.