Aaron McLean

Aaron McLean

Work experience students get down and dirty

J.L. Crowe Secondary work experience students were out and about on Tuesday, doing their part for a Communities Pulling Together initiative.

This is the third year the program has been working with organizations like the Central Kootenay Invasive Plant Committee and Land Conservancy of B.C.

“It’s an education thing — the more kids we get out, the more understanding there is about the conservancy of the area,” said Norman Marchi, work experience coordinator at J.L. Crowe.

“The first year it was more of a picking up garbage thing, last year it was more of a maintenance thing and it’s looking pretty good now,” said Marchi.

He added that kids in the program have made bird boxes and bee nests, and that another trip they’ll be going on will involve them working with a biologist to do creek surveys in the area.

These trips not only benefit the student and release them from the classroom, but also help out local organizations as well.

“It helps us reach our goal of managing priority species because for us, we’re a small organization, we always need bodies,” said Jennifer Vogel, program coordinator with the Central Kootenay Invasive Plant Committee.

“And it’s also great to give back to the community, so that they learn something productive and most of the groups have a really good time.”

On that particular day the students were out chopping down the invasive Japanese knotweed by the Old Trail Bridge.

The plant is rather hardy — in order to completely kill it herbicides must be used at the roots.

The program is important because of the sensitive ecosystem that the knotweed invaded.

“This area, the Columbia River, leads to Fort Shepard which is our biggest concern and we want to stop it from going into the United States,” Vogel said.

The students enjoy the day trips as well, as it means they get to escape the classroom for a while.

“It’s a good opportunity to get out of class and do something good for our community,” said Aaron McLean, one of the students on site.

He added that they learn a lot of things they might not otherwise hear about — like the bee population, which he found out about on the ride down to the site.

“It’s enjoyable — better than math class.”