Gordon students clean up trail for Earth Day

KINGSTON — Last fall, while on a walk on the Carpenter Creek Trail behind Gordon Elementary, Bethany Lahaie's third grade class noticed how overgrown the trail had become. They resolved to return in the spring, and clean it up for their Earth Day project.

April 22 arrived, and a sunny day favored the class and their volunteer parents while they cleaned out overgrown brush, dug out invasive species, planted native species and made signs to keep people from walking off the trail.

Carolina Veenstra, a volunteer with the North Kitsap Trails Association, was on hand to help the students and teach them a little about good vs. bad plants. She took a prickly bush and asked the kids what kind of plant it was, hinting it was something good to eat in the summer.

"Marshmellows?" asked one student. Veenstra laughed — it was an overgrown blackberry bush. The students were also joined by Kari Pelaez of the Stillwaters Environmental Center.

Other students planted Douglas firs and ferns in areas off the trails that had been trampled on. The students also stuck several signs around, warning walkers to stick to the trail.

Lahaie said they are leading up to a new science class project, where "every kid will be an expert on a native plant," she said.

"This group of kids, they work really well together," she said. Taking care of their own school's backyard is a good way to show the students ownership and responsibility for taking care of nature, she said.

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