We have just started the school year and have two new crews of awesome young people wanting to learn about and participate in conservation. The two new Service Learning Academy crews started their orientation on August 19th and spent their first week getting a crash course on tools, trails, and environmental conservation. We started off getting to know each other and then went on a field trip to the heart of our city, Zilker Park. At Zilker, we learned about Leave No Trace and how we use that philosophy here at TxCC. We also took a first-hand look at what our predecessors, the Civilian Conservation Corps and other depression-era programs, had built at the park… from the art deco park entrance sign and Barton Springs Sunken Gardens to the park clearing and trail work. The week then flowed into more field trips to other former project sites. These field trips along with each of this year’s planned work projects and team building activities serve as springboard for corpsmembers to discover new and exciting ways to learn otherwise difficult to grasp academic or conservation concepts. We concluded the week by taking one final field trip to Turkey Creek at Emma Long Metro Park, the site of an epic trail building project from a couple of years ago, and we revealed to our recruits their crew assignments for the rest of their year.
The following week, we threw our crews headfirst into the work projects and started to build on their trail maintenance skills on the trails at East Metropolitan Park. We learned how to make sustainable drainage structures such as water bars, rolling grade dips and check steps, just to name a few, and we worked on concepts of trail design that will give park users a better and more natural experience. The project also served as a time for us to work with our new students on chainsaw use and safety, a hallmark of every corpmembers time at TxCC. At the end of our time at “East Metro”, we had done our best to make the park trails more nature-centric, visually appealing and sustainable.
We are excited to see what this season and these great new students will bring!
Greg Solomon, Service Learning Academy Crew Leader