Students Learn About Conservation While Taking Care of Trails

Some high school students are getting back to nature during their summer vacation. They are helping build and maintain hiking trails in Houston. Houston Public Radio's Capella Tucker reports

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Nearly a couple dozen high school students from Houston are learning about conservation this summer. They are called the Green Team. The Student Conservation Association puts the teams together. Crew Leader Holly Clark says the association works in national parks building new trails and maintaining them. Clark says it's challenging because they are always bringing in new volunteers to help out.

"All of our tools are manual so we don't have any electric tools like chain saws or anything. Whenever we need to cut trees, we use saws and axes. It can be pretty challenging because we are working mostly with kids and they are mostly inner-city or kids from urban areas who are not used to using tools at all."

In Houston, the Green Team is building and fixing trails in Memorial Park and at the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center.

"We built a new trail at the end of an existing trail that had fallen into a ravine. So we rerouted that trail up the side of a hill and we put in a lot of structures to keep the water off of the trail so hopefully it will last well into the future."

Students receive a stipend for their work in the program which is supported by ExxonMobil. Twenty students were selected for this year's program in Houston. They have to go through an application and interview process. 17 year old Jennifer Orellana attends Chavez High School environmental magnet program. In addition to building trails, she has also been spending her time removing invasive plants that threaten Houston's native plants. Orellana says the experience is expanding her knowledge of nature.

"Even insects, sometimes we look at insects and say what's that. Then after this work or job or whatever, you see them out there and you're like oh I know what that is, so it's really exciting."

After spending several weeks in Houston's wilderness, the students also study ecosystems, conservation principles and environmental awareness. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.

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