by Teresa Shipley
Our week in the Grand Canyon has come to a close, and a few of the numbers are in:
- We pulled over 12,000 weeds.
- We spread nearly ½ acre of mulch (which doesn't sound like much, until the shovel is in your hands).
- We collectively hiked 27 miles (that doesn't include our fun-day hikes) in the Canyon.
- We surveyed and GPS'd about 9 miles of National Park boundary fence.
- We de-winterized the native plant nursery and installed a rodent-proof fence.
- We made dozens of new friendships.
Our hard work saved the Park thousands of dollars while providing an incredible service-learning opportunity to 25 college students from across the country. These students, strangers, really had no idea what to expect when their planes landed in the desert. Certainly the snow was a surprise, but everyone agreed by the end of the week that it made for some great stories.
One participant said she would leave her old ideas about what she could and couldn't accomplish behind; she'd never believed she would have been able to camp in 15 degree weather in 5 inches of snow, but now she has a renewed sense of confidence. Several other participants revealed how this Spring Break had germinated new ideas about their post-college opportunities. Everyone agreed, though, that we accomplished some great stuff for the Park. We certainly have the sore muscles to prove it.
Now let's see what the second crew can accomplish. Stay tuned for more updates from Alternative Spring Break at the Grand Canyon.