From July 9-August 3, rising ninth and tenth graders in the Summit, Springfield, New Providence and Berkeley Heights area have the opportunity to join the Eco-Corps at Summit's Reeves-Reed Arboretum. Combining training with hands-on experiences, the no-fee program includes lessons and projects that help teens understand and address local and global environmental issues.
The Arboretum's 13.5 acres is the outdoor classroom in which environmental science is taught through daily lessons, visits from environmental professionals, field trips, and a variety of projects in the Arboretum’s woodlands, gardens and greenhouse. The work projects and activities planned for this summer include removal of invasive plants, trail building and maintenance, planting of native plants, and installing water diversion devices. All of these projects are an immediate and direct help to the Arboretum and have a long term beneficial environmental impact.
Pallavi Patil, a Summit High School freshman, was a member of the Eco-Corps last summer. She explained that the days were varied but usually included a lesson followed by work on the Arboretum grounds, including work on the vernal pool (a shallow pond that fills with water each spring and provides a safe area for breeding frogs). According to Pallavi, "Kids who enjoy hands-on learning and like working outdoors would really like Eco-Corps." Pallavi especially enjoyed a day trip to the Passaic River where they collected fish and other organisms. "It was really cool." Pallavi now volunteers regularly at the Arboretum where she helps with seasonal events.
The Eco-Corps program is four weeks long, 9 AM-3 PM, Monday-Friday, and will admit only ten teens. There is no charge for the program and participants receive a stipend to acknowledge their commitment and contributions to the upkeep of the Arboretum. To learn more and get an application, go to http://www.reeves-reedarboretum.org/admin/uploads/Eco-Corp-Application-and-cover.pdf.
The ultimate goal of the Eco-Corps is to enable and encourage the teens to share what they’ve learned through continued action in their homes, schools and communities.
Eco-Corps is a collaborative effort between the Arboretum and the Summit Area YMCA and is funded by the Summit Area Public Foundation.
By Beth Lovejoy, on behalf of the Summit Environmental Commission