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October 4, 2012
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Student volunteers learn lesson in service

VAIL, Colorado - Vail Mountain School middle school students learn ways to help the local and global community, and on Community Day they went out and did good.

Students and faculty spread out across Eagle and Summit counties Sept. 28 to put some legs on their lessons. In total, 124 VMS folks worked more than 250 hours of service work, the equivalent of someone working full-time for 31 days.

They worked inside, outside and one thing's for certain - they worked.

And work, as they say, is good for you. The students learned a little about their community, a lot about themselves, and that work is sometimes fun.

"There is a famous quote that says, 'You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation,' and I think that this wonderful tradition is absolute proof of its truth," said Kate Blakslee, community service coordinator.

The volunteer workforce got busy at the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, Vail Nature Center, Eagle River Watershed Council, the Youth Foundation, Vail Valley Foundation's Education Arm, Summit and Eagle Animal Shelters, Habitat ReStore, and on the Booth Falls Trail.

At the Vail Nature Center, for example, they widened the Five Senses Trail, pulled weeds and building water bars to prevent erosion.

"The kids worked tirelessly digging, raking, and pulling thistles. Their effort was amazing," said Karlie Carter, who worked alongside the students.

Jill Strange with the U.S. Forest Service and Volunteers Outdoor Colorado, had another group working maintenance on Booth Falls Trail, located right behind the VMS campus. They learned about trail maintenance and rebuilt water-bars to deflect rain and runoff away from the trail to prevent erosion.

A half dozen sixth graders spent the morning at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Eagle, cleaning out storage sheds, separating materials to be recycled, and organizing inventory.

The Eagle River Watershed Council has been working to restore the river to a more natural state to better support local wildlife. Students weeded and watered new plants, picked up trash, worked to mitigate invasive, non-native plants, and even pulled a tire out of the river.

At Brush Creek Elementary School, 10 students worked with the Youth Foundation, Vail Valley Foundation's Education Arm, and the Sowing Seeds Program. They painted the school's new greenhouse, raised vegetable garden containers, improved growing tables, tilled new beds, weeded, and cleaned compost bins.

Six eighth-graders took a ride to the Summit County Animal Shelter, where they cleaned out cat litter boxes and walked dogs. They also learned about a new program of dog play being used at the shelter where dogs are introduced to a larger group two at a time to help them with socialization and minimize the stress on already fearful animals that, in many cases, have been abused or neglected.

"Our work benefited many people and areas outside of VMS through the local organizations we visited," Blakslee said. "The students came away with an invigorated sense of pride and community that is gained by working as a team to serve others, and engaging in good, lighthearted competition among friends."

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.


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The VailDaily Updated Oct 4, 2012 11:56PM Published Oct 4, 2012 11:54PM Copyright 2012 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.