Students united for wetlands sake

Students from Spring Street and Salmonberry schools join forces to help restore the Land Bank’s Beaverton Valley Marsh.   - Contributed photo / Salmonberry
Students from Spring Street and Salmonberry schools join forces to help restore the Land Bank’s Beaverton Valley Marsh.
— image credit: Contributed photo / Salmonberry

Students from three islands teamed up to help restore wetland habitat at San Juan County Land Bank’s Beaverton Valley Marsh property.

The 14 students in the 4-6th grade class at Salmonberry School on Orcas Island and 10 students from Spring Street International School’s 7th grade science class met up last week for the first in what will be a series of environmental stewardship and community service projects.

“I was amazed to see how quickly and easily the kids from our two schools encompassing such a wide age span bonded around this important environmental project,” said Paul Freedman, Salmonberry School program director. “There was an infectious spirit and a camaraderie about their work.”

The Land Bank acquired the Beaverton Valley Marsh property, home to one of the largest expanses of critical wetland habitat in the county, some years ago.

It has been coordinating volunteer efforts in an attempt to reclaim the monoculture canary reed grass cattle pasture, and to reintroduce the kind of diverse plant species needed to attract birds and other wildlife to restore the ecosystem around this important watershed. Spring Street students began planting willows and other shrubs in the marsh two years ago. But partnering with Salmonberry kids seemed to make sense because of the enormity of the project, Spring Street science teacher Sharon Massey said.

For the students, a chance to get muddy and wet made a “school day” all the better.

“It was fun to meet kids from another school and work on an important project like this together,” said Salmonberry 6th-grader Sophia Kobayashi. “We all got wet and muddy and had a great time, but we also felt very proud of our work.”

Freedman said future collaborations are possible and that the two schools share a similar philosophy.

“We need to keep kids invested in real work and then integrate that with their book studies,” he said.


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