Fourth & Fifth Grade Students Serve as Yuba Stewards

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SYRCL and Grass Valley Charter School Foster
Next Generation of Stewards

Photo credit: Merry Byles-Daly
Photo credit: Merry Byles-Daly

Grass Valley Charter School (GVCS) has been getting dirty at Bennett Street Meadow since it was purchased as a conservation easement by the Bear Yuba Land Trust and California State Parks in 2000. For the past decade, the school has organized both student fieldwork and professional development for teachers at the meadow.

“One of SYRCL’s goals is to empower and inspire the next generation of environmental stewards.  We love partnering with Grass Valley Charter School on these Cleanup and Restoration service-learning projects which give students an impactful hands-on experience,” said Jenn Tamo, SYRCL’s Community Engagement Manager.

This year’s Yuba River Cleanup crew thoroughly enjoyed their work.  Doing their part to help out with this year’s Cleanup, 5th-graders packed more than 30 site leader bags for each of the Cleanup and Restoration sites with enough supplies for 850 Cleanup volunteers. The finishing touch on their hard work was to add a hand-decorated site location sign to each bag.

Volunteer site leader bags, beautifully decorated and ready to distribute

Meanwhile, 4th-graders spent two days picking up trash and recyclables at Bennett Street Meadow. They also cleared invasive blackberries from a native plant restoration area. For the last eight years, students have been heading to the meadow once or twice a year to do service work. The students use the area to study birds, habitats, food webs, and ecosystems. Under the supervision of Dan Lubin, CA State Parks environmental scientist, students have culled blackberries and planted willows in a streambed to prevent erosion. The students love “freeing” the natives from the choking blackberries and providing more creekside access for plants and animals.

According to Merry Byles-Daly, 4th-Grade Teacher, “Students love doing stewardship work. It is one of the 10 character traits our students try to model on a daily basis. As teachers at Grass Valley Charter School, we are committed to deepening a sense of stewardship and a connection with the natural world in our students.”

Photo credit: Merry Byles-Daly

The students also have an opportunity to reflect on their work and write about their experiences. Some of the students shared their thoughts with us.

“Today we went to Bennett Street Meadow to make space for native plants and for native animals to eat. It felt good to help animals and plants to have better lives there by clearing the blackberries for them to get water and have more native plants. We went to pick up trash and I noticed that there was a lot of trash, so I tried to pick up a lot of trash. I picked up plastic bags, glass bottles, and some small boxes. I felt good to have a clean home and habitat to live in.” — Regan, 4th-grade student, GVCS

“My crew went to Bennett Street Meadow. We had so much fun. We got split into two groups. My group cut down the blackberries. It matters because the animals need water and the native plants need their space to grow. The other group picked up the trash in the meadow. Why this matters is because some animals might think it is food and they could choke.” — Simone, 4th-grade student, GVCS

Photo credit: Merry Byles-Daly

“Yesterday my crew went to Bennett Street Grasslands. We cut the blackberries because they were taking over the water, so then the native plants couldn’t grow and some native animals can’t live without native plants. It was really hard but also super fun. While we were there we picked up some trash. There was a three-foot ditch and it had lots of trash in it, so I climbed in and got a lot of it. When we were cutting the blackberries, me and a few other people found something. It looked like the front of a bicycle. Dan and Anna [Dan Lubin and Anna Van Zuuk, park biologists] helped us, and now the native plants and animals have a better life. It was very fun to help the earth.” — Lexie, 4th-grade student, GVCS

Photo credit: Merry Byles-Daly

“At Bennett Street Meadow I helped cut blackberry bushes so animals would be able to get water from the creek and the blackberries were over the creek. We also picked up garbage so that the creek would not be all dirty, so animals could get a drink. We could not have done it without Dan and Anna [Dan Lubin and Anna Van Zuuk, park biologists].” — Thomas, 4th-grade student, GVCS

“Me and my partner picked up trash, so it would not flow into the Yuba River, and also so it would not be eaten by animals such as deer, foxes, and bears. Me and some other kids cut down blackberries so animals could drink from the creek and so birds could eat the cherries in the summer. And that’s what I did at Bennett Street Meadow.” — Daniel, 4th-grade student, GVCS

“On fieldwork we went to Bennett Street Grasslands and we cut down blackberries, because the blackberries were covering all the native plants. We also picked up trash that people left from summer. When cutting down blackberry plants we had to get deep down and pull the huge roots. When picking up trash we found a rusty cowbell. This was an amazing fieldtrip.” — Alexa, 4th-grade student, GVCS

Save the date for the 20th Annual Yuba River Cleanup – Saturday, September 16th, 2017.
If you are interested in involving your school or youth group, contact Heather Kallevig, River Education Manager at or (530) 265-5961 ext.218 or Jenn Tamo, Community Engagement Manager at or (530) 265-5961 ext.201.

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