Reflections on our Trail Cleanup Project

Our Experience

The sun rose over the mountaintop as we opened the breakfast bag given to volunteers. I bounced Everly in the ergo to keep her from fussing.Teams of teenagers completing mandated community-service hours congregated next to buff mountain bikers ready to give back to the trails. And there we were: me, a woman not exactly known for her strength, and my 18 month-old daughter, clinging to her fisher-price shovel. Not long after we got there, my husband arrived with our 4 year-old son, we grabbed a pair of clippers and headed for the trails.

“I’ve never seen volunteers that young before,” a ranger muttered. “Future rangers of America,” I answered proudly. When we got to our assigned area, we were instructed to look for fennel. Apparently, it isn’t indegenious to the area, and it takes water away from other plants. My husband was actually doing some work clipping while I followed Everly around, trying to make sure she didn’t eat any of the trail mix that she had dropped in the dirt. Scott came back and informed us that the rest of the fennel was located in an area replete with poisonous plants, and we realized that there really wasn’t much more we could do to help. The ranger told us to take a walk, to enjoy the day.



Because of sharp tools and poisonous plants, this project is probably better suited for older volunteers. However, I’m still glad we went. Why? I like the idea that we spent our Saturday learning about the environment. I like that my son is learning that it is important to participate in community service days, and I like that he was talking to me later on about how he helped “get that fennel” so that other plants could grow. I know there are people out there doing more important, helpful things, and I hope we will be more like those people in the future, but, for now, I’m grateful for the experience, and I’m also grateful that my daughter didn’t ingest dirty raisins or poison oak.

Want to do something like this with your family?

If your kids are a bit older, or if you want to try something like this regardless, you can see my post “Taking Care of the Environment” for tips on how to get started. Do you have any tips on how to help kids take care of the environment? If so please share them! Also, if you are interested, click here to start a club of your own. Thank you so much for reading, and let’s go serve our community on purpose.

About Kellie Van Atta

Kellie Van Atta is a wife, a mom of two, and a teacher of English. She lives in Southern California and is passionately dedicated to teaching her kids to love others.

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