April 29, 2009

Taking care of Mother Earth

By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer

Earth Day was a great opportunity for area teachers to give their students a hands-on lesson in community service.
“I don’t spend a lot of time on Earth Day in my class, but the kids seem very aware of the day,” says Kent Pelton, Watford City High School teacher. “In an effort to help the park district and build community pride I decided to have my students take part in an Earth Day clean-up.”
After the March flooding left the Tourist Park in shambles, Pelton along with other teachers decided that Earth Day would be the perfect day to take their students out of the classroom for some hands-on learning. “The amount of work the students did was amazing,” says Robin Arndt, Watford City Park Board director. “I don’t know how we would have gotten it all cleaned up ourselves. The kids really did an incredible job.”
Damage to the park is estimated at over $60,000 not including labor. According to Arndt, students helped clean the park of debris including rocks, asphalt, garbage and silt.
“The city hauled away two truckloads of debris that the kids picked up,” adds Arndt. “There was debris all through the park, and the grass was covered with such a thick layer of silt that it was beginning to yellow and would have died soon. The kids raked it all up helping to save the grass.”
Pelton estimates that 150 students pitched in on Earth Day to clean up the Tourist Park, some of them spending more than one class period at the park.
“The kids loved it, especially with the nice weather,” comments Pelton. “I believe everyone involved wanted to do their part to make the park look nice again.”
The students accomplished a lot, but according to Arndt there is still a long ways to go before the park will be back to normal.
“The damage was extensive,” says Arndt. “We brought in a playground inspector and he suggested we replace all of the equipment because it was heavily damaged by water, sand and ice. There is also a lot of electrical damage, and we haven’t even had a chance to check into the irrigation system.”
Another big loss to the park was the white posts that border the roadway through the park. According to Arndt, fifty of the posts were wiped out during the flood.
“A local Boy Scout attended our last park board meeting and offered to replace the posts for his Eagle Scout project,” says Arndt. “It’s nice to see that the community is willing to step in and help get the park back in shape.”
Earth Day, which was celebrated in the United States on April 22, is a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment, and it seems that area teachers did a great job passing that message on to their students.