Lexington Area High School Students Clean Up Nature Preserves

by Ben Swanson

When I accepted the position as a youth representative on The Nature Conservancy’s Kentucky Board of Trustees last year, I committed to intensifying efforts to engage a new generation of conservationists in the organization’s work. I recently delivered by organizing Youth Work Day at the Sally Brown and Crutcher nature preserves in Garrard County.

Our work day, held on April 12th in conjunction with Global Youth Service Day, an event sponsored by Youth Service America, was truly a team effort. Ken Brooks, the volunteer preserve steward at the Sally Brown and Crutcher nature preserves, organized the project – cleaning up a portion of the Kentucky River. I focused on publicizing the event and succeeded in recruiting eleven volunteers from area high schools. Lynn Schwantes, another Conservancy volunteer, also helped throughout the day.

ImageOur volunteers represented four Lexington-area high schools. For most, this was their first experience with The Nature Conservancy.

After the volunteers arrived, we spent some time orienting them about The Nature Conservancy’s mission and expectations for the day. The volunteers then split into two groups, with half going upstream from the trail down to the Kentucky River, and half going downstream. Everyone collected and bagged garbage from the banks for eventual disposal. All told, the volunteers filled some 25 large bags with garbage over five and a half hours.

ImageWhile picking up the debris, volunteers also witnessed many spectacular wildflowers including fringed phacelia, larkspur, celandine poppies, sessile trillium, nodding trillium and common blue phlox.

ImageBefore heading home, Ken and his wife, Vicki treated all of the volunteers to soda and lemonade at their nearby residence. Aside from one nose bleed and an insect sting, the event went smoothly and served as an excellent introduction to conservation for these volunteers.

Since our work day, I’ve followed up with the volunteers in hopes that they will continue to be involved in advancing the Conservancy’s mission around Kentucky. I’ve been pleased to learn from them that they found the work enjoyable and fulfilling.



Thanks to the following volunteers: Tori Canning, Anna Billhymer, Janet Guo, Amina Anwar, Raiffa Syamil, Bradley Phelps, Neha Koolambi, David Stevens, Hank Russell, Grace Campbell