Dear Journal,

May 16, 2014 by Parks Conservancy Staff

In this week's blog post, we have to give it up to some grade A high school students.

Students from Perry, Pittsburgh Science and Technology, City High, Ellis, and Westinghouse High Schools have been gearing up in gators and gloves all year as High School Urban EcoStewards, taking on ecological restoration projects in the parks while learning about science and stewardship. As part of this program, students are given time to find quiet places in the park to observe, reflect, and journal about their experiences. This week, as we say goodbye to this year's High School Urban EcoStewards, we want to thank them for their work and share some of their entries.

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Walking from point A to B
Not just to plant some trees
We learned about invasive species and natives, too
It's really hard work that we do
Working in snow, sleet, and rain
Definitely does not ease our pain
But the thought of us making our earth a better place
Keeps a smile upon our face
Sprained ankle, and sick to the bone
I was determined to come for what there was to learn
We dedicate our bodies and time just to balance the world
We don't discriminate -- you can be a boy or a girl
Everyone is welcome to join a great cause
For this experience deserves an infinite amount of applause
I want to say thank you to Bailey and the staff
We got to talk and even got to laugh
I had a great time and I can finally say
An EcoSteward is what I'll stay
-Ronnay, Pittsburgh Science and Technology

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journalblog2 Students got up close to plants in the park, observing and learning through the journals they kept. They made detailed sketches of invasive species such as jetbead to take note of distinctive characteristics. This helped them learn to properly identify and remove these plants on their site.

The park in the fall
Red, orange, yellow leaves
The rain makes me calm
-A High School Urban EcoSteward from Ellis

journalblog4 Students are taken on neighborhood walks, where they visit three sites around their schools's neighborhood and sketch each site from a bird's eye view. After, they determine what percentage of the site is permeable (water can seep through it) and impermeable (water cannot seep through it) to learn how green spaces impact storm water management.

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Throughout their experience as High School Urban EcoStewards, students develop the skills and confidence to take concrete action to improve the natural environment. Given the time to thoughtfully observe, explore, reflect and restore, they become conscientious stewards of the world around them. We thank them for all of their hard work this year!

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Ecological Restoration, Learning and Education, High School Urban EcoStewards, Volunteering, Arts & Crafts