by Emma Jornlin
When I visited Seattle’s two community crews this summer, I was surprised to observe the depth of the conversations these 15 to 19 year-old crew members engage in while working long days to remove invasives and stabilize freshly bare hillsides.
by Emma Jornlin
When I visited Seattle’s two community crews this summer, I was surprised to observe the depth of the conversations these 15 to 19-year-old crew members engage in while working long days to remove invasives and stabilize freshly bare hillsides.
They spoke of everything from the gulf oil spill and pollution to religion and family traditions and of course lots of talk about college and dreams of future careers.
At my visit to the Thornton Creek Crew, shown below, two girls spoke about the differences between their two religions, Islam and Christianity. Faduma, a Muslim, revealed to us that she gets up two times during the night to pray, one of those times at 4 a.m. in order to beat the rising sun!
As our pile of ivy bundles grew tall and robins bounced around, snatching up worms that we had loosened from the dirt, the topic shifted from religion to animals and pets we have at home. Doan, a student from West Seattle, revealed to us that he has a chicken coop in his backyard, giving his family an endless supply of eggs. He also noted proudly that the chickens are free range.
None of the crew members seemed too concerned about the wildlife in the area, minus a large hornet’s nest everyone was instructed to avoid. But parks staff and SCA staff members are working hard to make this change. Weekly environmental education lessons and field trips aim to educate students about their natural surroundings and opportunities in the environmental field.
While I was visiting the Lake Ridge (or “Dead Horse Canyon”) crew, shown above, a woman named Christine from Seattle Parks came to teach us about the birds that inhabit the park, bringing with her a collection of owl taxidermy.
As the crew members oohed and ahhed over the stuffed owl carcasses, Christine pointed out to them that there are careers to study birds if they are interested.
“Ornithology is a degree you can get in college. Look it up when you go home: ornithology, the study of birds.”
Most of the students I talked to have plans to go to college, and they will use the money they are earning this summer to help them get there. But what they plan to study remains up in the air. Environmental education is rarely taught in Seattle Public Schools and many had never heard of words like plant taxonomy, watersheds, or invasive species. It will be exciting to see what lessons each of the 24 crew members take away from their time with SCA this summer. Maybe topics like ornithology will slowly begin to trickle into their everyday conversations, alongside equally important topics like business, religion, and future careers.
Here are a few photos, from both crews, showing some of the work we accomplished.
Faduma talks about building drainage for a trail. For more videos about SCA Seattle, visit SCA's YouTube page.