Returning to Rockefeller State Park Preserve

By Shaniya Francis, Student Outreach Coordinator

This Sunday the Center partnered up with the Rockefeller State Park Preserve for the second time and it was a great learning experience. There were 10 volunteers who dedicated their time to preserving the environment. We met up with Rebecca from the park who taught us all that we needed to know about planting trees and how invasive plants can affect its growth process. As we walked into the park she explained to us how there was a mother Snapping Turtle who had laid eggs throughout the garden and left her babies. For the first 15-20 minutes we searched the garden for the baby turtles. We had the opportunity to release them near the lake.  They were really adorable and tiny. But watch out! When they grow up they have a strong bite, hence the name Snapping Turtle.

Even though I initiated our partnership with Rockefeller last year for my first service event as a supervisor, they never fail to amaze me with the information they provide. They taught us that by planting sedges we can prevent erosion. We planted a few trees such as blueberries and oak. Throughout the park there were Japanese stiltgrass that were invasive to many plants and trees. We had to pull them out in order to get our job done. Throughout the group many people claimed to have love digging holes. We saw many worms and assumed that they were good for the growth of the plants. But we were wrong. Rebecca explained to us they were actually invasive and not good for the trees and plants after all. Many of the volunteers had never planted a tree (including myself), so being able to learn all of these new things was great. I love kinesthetic learning and being able to get my hands dirty. 

This type of work is important for our community and environment. With the decline in our ecosystem, preservation is very vital in saving our planet. But it all starts with us. No matter how small of a task you think it is, it is impactful regardless. It is important to get people out of their comfort zones and to become aligned with nature. The Center is all about civic engag ement, which is working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, values, skills and motivation to make that difference. I appreciate all the Rockefeller State Park represents and hope to have them as a long term partner for future events.