Above, Groundwork Dallas volunteers. Archive photo courtesy of Groundwork Dallas.
April 15, 2021
The crashing lightning and rolling thunder shook the trees and sent the dogs into hiding. It wasn’t quite the opening of the heavens I experienced a few years ago at Beavers Bend campground in Oklahoma, but it was a serious Texas thunderstorm, nothing to trifle with.
It was an ominous start to my camping trip last weekend at a local state park.
But the next morning broke clear and cool, with summer’s heat still a month away. I headed out on the trail expecting the usual suspects only to find a small army of volunteers cleaning up the park.
They were mostly high schoolers toting trash bags and pick-up sticks looking for "Kleenex" flowers or a stray beer can. What I really discovered was the next generation of nature lovers who know that a local clean-up benefits each of them. They instinctively know that "‘fouling your own nest" is just what it sounds like.
Archive photo courtesy of the Environmental League of Dallas.
After a few words of encouragement from this gray-bearded hiker, I continued my walk along the creek meeting Ashley from Cumberland Charter School in Tyler and Daniel from East Texas Council of Government.
Ashley was assisting her sociology students in the clean-up. Daniel was trying to keep them out of harms way. But this was not your ordinary kind of clean-up crew. Ashley’s students, led by a fearless young lady named Rilyn, were in the creek and blazing small openings in the banks of heavy brush to get those hanging pieces of trash placed there by wind and flood over many years.
Without these young volunteers giving up their cell phones and valuable weekends for a better way of life, those non-biodegradable pieces of trash would be there for a lifetime, at least.
So, let’s celebrate every day as Earth Day and also celebrate the passing of the torch (clean fuel, of course) to this next generation of conservationists and those dedicated teachers who lead and inspire them.
'Fertile Ground' is a new column by Green Source director Wendel Withrow.
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