Not many high school students would describe their dream summer plans as chopping down invasive plants in the middle of the forest.
But the eight students participating in the Student Conservation Association program have spent a week this summer doing just that, and several said they wouldn’t have it any other way.
On Wednesday, the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park held the second annual youth work party to help clear invasive Scotch broom from park-owned land, called the Yeon property, in Warrenton. Students from several youth programs played a part, including the Student Conservation Association, the Lewis and Clark Youth Conservation Corps and college interns from Northwest Youth Corps.
While these cleanup events are helpful to clear Scotch broom, staff at Lewis and Clark also want to expose high school students to future careers with the National Park Service.
“We would love to have these kids wanting to work in the park service, but whether or not that happens, it’s also just that we do want to instill in them understanding and appreciation for the national parks,” Carla Cole, the natural resources program manager for Lewis and Clark, said.
The Student Conservation Association students who attended on Wednesday had already spent the past week working to eradicate invasive plant species from the Yeon property while camping in tents nearby. The national program aims to teach students about hands-on environment conservation.
Though the work is labor-intensive, the participants, who are from across the U.S., described loving it. The students saw the many piles of Scotch broom they’ve helped eradicate. The visual aid helped keep spirits high.
“An hour and a half ago this was all covered in Scotch broom, and now it’s stumps and open field,” Carmen Simons, a student from New York, said.