Planting New Life at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

by Tau I. Robinson-Farrar
After hearing a phenomenal presentation at the Department of the Interior, it was time to leave for our service projects. As we were making our way to the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens (the location for our service project) I asked Alex, a high school student from New Hampshire, how he felt about the presentation.

“Parts of the presentation were inspiring but I thought a lot it was cheesy because there were too many awards being given,” he said. After my interview with Alex, everyone on the bus was given their lunch boxes. I eventually got a veggie chicken sandwich and a chocolate cookie.

Thirty minutes passed until we finally arrived at our location and were fully ready for our task. So I asked Donna Drader, a Washington state resident and member of the SCA Alumni Council, why she joined the Alumni Council.

“I joined the Alumni Council because I’ve had many great experiences [with] SCA,” she said.

Then we were called to our selected groups so we could begin our project. Everyone in our group had to introduce themselves and make up some strange type of dance; I did the robot. Having now introduced ourselves, it was time to get our hands dirty. Since invasive plant species like honeysuckle and English ivy are taking over the park, our task was to plant native species like the Eupatorium and the Rudbeckia fulgida goldsturm, also known as the Black-eyed Susan. We started the project by digging out dirt and placing the plants in the ground. I found dozens of earthworms and actually dug out a rock the size of a potato. Everyone was amazed.

Tired from the long two hours I put my back into planting, I took a break to ask Rebecca Stanfield McCown, a student from the University of Vermont, how the service project we were doing made her feel. “I think its great, and being outdoors is good for the soul,” she said.

In the final hour of the project, we were given mulch to scatter on the newly planted natives. The funny thing about the mulch stage of the project was that they kept bringing more and more of it to us, and we had to find some way to dump it on top of the other piles we had scattered. Then, it was time to leave.

As the staff members and volunteers got the equipment situated and all participants of the project were having numerous conversations with each other, I got the chance to ask Randy Rupp, Admissions Communications Manager of SCA, how the service project we had just finished made him feel.

“I thought the project was great,” he said. “It shows what we do at SCA everyday.”

This project has been enriching, fun, and also tiring at the same time, but it’s worth it because planting these small trees help with climate change. What I learned from this experience was that we as a people should understand that enjoying and taking care of the outdoors is something that everyone should do more often. Our world isn’t just game arcades and mini malls, there are mysterious forests, wondrous deserts, and endless seas. Isn’t our world worth preserving?

Tau is a 14 year-old homeschooled student from Brooklyn, New York. He heard about the SCA EarthVision conference from staff at his local newspaper, where he is an intern.