Our 11th and 12th grade classes took part in the annual Oatka Creek clean up this Spring...
The trip is part of their Ecology and community service requirements, but the trip has come to mean so much more for our students who think of themselves, and our school, as the stewards of Oatka creek.
Some students call their ongoing relationship with the 800 acres as the best part of high school! Throughout 6 day trips and 1 overnight- sometimes on 400 privately-owned acres that few others have access to, our students do more than just clear the creek of debris like tires, bottles, and old license plates.
Students play an integral role in conservation and restoration efforts, working alongside individuals from the Department of Environmental Conservation, and students and faculty from Finger Lakes Community College, and Hobart William Smith.
They learn about shoreline preservation and erosion management by participating in "Trees for Tribs" (tributaries); clearing areas of invasive species, removing logs, and replanting new saplings. Last year, the area lost 500 full-size ash trees, making restoration efforts even more critical.
Important lessons in sustainability, renewable resources, and ecology are learned best by working through plot studies, exploring and measuring vernal ponds, researching native and opportunistic species. This year the creek experienced the second highest rainfall since 1873. This water, plus melting, has put the creek is over it's banks, just one change students observe and record.
Kids who may struggle inside the classroom, don't struggle outside the classroom! Working together through experiences like Oatka Creek is equalizing and helps students accomplish mastery of skills and knowledge. Oatka Creek gives them opportunity to take on leadership roles, feel a sense of pride, build collaboration and problem-solving skills that transfer into classroom learning.