Volunteer team looks forward

Northeastern University Alternative Spring Break volunteers enjoy the sunset after a day helping at North Leupp Family Farm on the Navajo Nation. Kate Watters photo

Spring is in full bloom all across the Colorado Plateau.  In our travels, we are enthralled by the wildflowers emerging from impossibly dry landscapes. The beauty and determination of the natural world despite all the factors stacked against it offers us hope.  Young volunteers also give us reason to look to the future with optimism.

This spring the energy and hard work of young people has been instrumental in advancing many of our projects. This March we hosted three groups of Alternative Spring Break students from Northeastern and Boston University. We sponsored a crew of ten AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps volunteers for six weeks at Kane Ranch. Former volunteer coordinator, Lauren Berutich, brought her Northern Arizona University social and environmental justice seminar students to do service work with Navajo communities.

Americorps National Civilian Community Corps volunteers improved pronghorn habitat by modifying miles of Kane Ranch fence. Kate Watters photo

Thanks to their collective work, big, juicy Palmer’s penstemon and pale evening primrose flowers bloom in the Kane Native Garden, offering nectar for pollinators. Pronghorn now travel freely and have better access to food and water in the House Rock Valley.  Six miles of the Paria Canyon and the ten acre restoration site at Lee’s Ferry are completely cleared of invasive tamarisk and Russian olive trees. 650 native plants in the Page Unified School District greenhouse are available for future native plant restoration projects, and the greenhouse at North Leupp Family Farm is ready for planting.

Navajo elder Glenmore Begay shared his stories with NAU Social and Environmental Justice students at the edge of his ranch on Coal Mine Mesa. Kate Watters photo

Navajo elder Glenmore Begay shared his commitment to traditional life while volunteers sheared sheep and helped slow arroyo erosion on his family’s ranch on Coal Mine Mesa.

We are inspired by their work ethic, their commitment to service, and willingness to challenge themselves to try new experiences. This helps us all believe in the power of renewal for humans and the natural world. Witness these young people in action in a documentary video by our NAU environmental communications intern, Derek Schroeder.

Northern Arizona University student Traci Huskon and GCT Americorps member Lindsay Martindale shear Churro sheep at Coal Mine Canyon. Kate Watters photo

Since 2008, we have trained over eighty Budding Botanist volunteers to document Arizona’s vast plant diversity. This year GCT received two grant awards to complete a flora inventory of Vermilion Cliffs National Monument. Join us in the remote corners of the Paria Plateau while we deepen our understanding of this unique landscape. Visit our website for the training and trip dates.

Fort Valley Weed Warriors celebrated Earth Day in force by removing invasive plants. Read an article by dedicated GCT volunteer Dorothy Lamm in the AZ Daily Sun about why it is so important to pull weeds before they alter ecosystems.

Save the date! GCT Community Education Series will host a panel discussion and Q & A of what communities can expect to experience throughout implementation of the Four Forest Restoration Initiative. Join us on June 5 at 7:00 pm at Cline Library.

A great summer of dynamic volunteer opportunities across the Colorado Plateau is just around the corner. Visit our trip schedule and get in on the last available spots!

— Kate Watters

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