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High school and middle school pupils participate in the outdoor project, helping the park district

GRAPHIC PHOTO: RYAN CLARKE - Students from Newberg High School and Mountain View Middle School recently planted shrubs and trees along Gettman Loop near Fernwood Road.

Part of the Chehalem Valley Watershed Project's mission is to educate local students on the finer points of conservation and natural resources. A project that began in late March is doing just that for students at Newberg High School and Mountain View Middle School, providing them an opportunity to plant trees and shrubbery – in addition to taking on other outdoor work – in a project near Chehalem Glenn Golf Course.

Students planted more than 150 riparian trees and shrubs, removed invasive species, tested the water in nearby creeks and installed wildlife boxes throughout the area along Gettman Loop. Theirs is part of an ongoing conservation effort on land owned by the Chehalem Park & Recreation District.

Peter Siderius, a teacher at NHS and the faculty advisor for the student-led conservation group, said he was proud to see the work done by students in the wooded and cleared area.

"We taught the kids how to plant a tree and they did some terrific work," he said. "They did a water quality sample and were looking for invertebrates in the water as well. There was a forestry aspect as well, where they counted trees in a certain area."

The mentorship aspect of the project stood out to Siderius as well as a group of CVWP student representatives provided guidance to their high school cohorts as well at the MVMS students.

Creating a new generation of students interested in conservation is a priority for senior student representative Quentin Comus, who has said in the past that he wants the watershed project to continue long after he and his classmates graduate.

It will if these middle school kids stick with it. Their impact is evident as one walks along the trail – much of the blackberries in certain areas have been removed and saplings sit in their place along the winding path.

"We had all the fifth graders out for a field day at the high school in the fall, so we're trying to spread an interest in this kind of thing down into elementary and middle schools," Siderius said. "Since Mountain View is close to us, we started collaborating with them. They've started coming over and using the NHS forest for science projects and studies."

Newberg Noon Rotary purchased the trees and shrubs in a partnership with CVWP and the NHS Interact Club. Siderius said grants like the one received for this project have fueled dozens of learning opportunities throughout the year for CVWP and other students.

The project is one of many that CVWP has undertaken this year. Its ambitious effort to make those in the area aware of the importance of conservation is becoming a hallmark of the NHS Career and Technical Education program.

Work is still underway, too. The bird, bat and butterfly boxes erected will be continually monitored by students, as will the water and plant life in the area. Interpretive signs will be placed for visitors as well.

And the work at Gettman Loop isn't the only planting recently done. Students planted 150 oak trees at CPRD's property along Highway 219 near Hash Road, creating what Siderius called an "oak savanna."

Siderius said students taking the lead on projects like the plantings is encouraging and rewarding for him as a teacher.

"We used to do 1,000 trees a year on park and rec land and along streams," Siderius, also among the CPRD board of directors, said. "Now the kids have kind of taken it over and we're doing what they're interested in. They come up with a lot of the ideas, and that's what the CVWP is all about."

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