The cold and rain did not stop students from Southwestern Classical Academy and Potter Elementary Schools who worked tirelessly in their effort towards building community pride and contributing to local park improvements at Flint’s Longway Park.
On April 30, 2015, students diligently worked with community partners and volunteers to plant 650 white pine seedlings, 100 shrubs/hardwoods and spread an acre of mulch in the park as part of a National Arbor Day celebration. Their dedication and commitment in support of the City of Flint’s Tree City USA designation through the Arbor Day Foundation was key to a successful event.
The project also implements goals from the City of Flint’s Imagine Flint Master Plan for parks, open space and green infrastructure. “Given the specific components and short timeline of the initiative, enlisting partners committed to working together was tremendously important to the project’s success” said Angela Warren, Administrator of Genesee Conservation District.
Longway Park is a 36.6-acre park with several ball fields, playground equipment, and approximately 4 acres of wooded area that will be expanded by this project.
This project was made possible through the generous contributions of Great Lakes Tree Experts of Burton, Bell Site Development, Inc. of Waterford who donated mulch for the project. The Genesee Conservation District was instrumental in initiating the project by convening partners and providing education and hands-on expertise for the seedling planting and working with the students. This effort is part of the statewide On Track to a Greener Michigan initiative sponsored by Consumers Energy and Michigan International Speedway.
Jef Johnson, Senior Conservation Coordinator for Genesee Conservation District expressed his satisfaction and appreciation for the efforts of the students who participated. “I’m proud of the students involved, they all worked hard and were determined to get the job done correctly.” He also expressed appreciation for all the collaborative partners who made the event possible and is looking forward to future projects which will utilize green space within the community.
This event supports the Master Plan as a demonstration of a naturalization project. Collaboration efforts included individuals from the City of Flint, teachers from Flint Community School District, SWA students, Potter Elementary students, Keep Genesee County Beautiful, Potter Longway Neighborhood Association, Eastwood United Methodist Church, the University of Michigan-Flint, Consumer’s Energy, Michigan International Speedway, Michigan Association of Conservation District and Genesee Conservation District.
“The collaborative nature of this project is a prime example of working together and pooling resources to accomplish objectives in our community,” said Angela Warren, Administrator of Genesee Conservation District.
Kim Hatfield, who teams with fellow teachers Linda Heck and Lynn Louchart-Kiefer to coordinate these efforts, said, “The kids get excited about these place-based projects. Applying what they are learning in the classroom to real world projects makes learning more relevant for them.”
The school is supported in these efforts by UM-Flint’s Discovering Place place-based education program with funding provided by the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative, Great Lakes Fisheries Trust, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.