Wednesday, October 7, 2009

High School and REI - Oh My! (Part 1)

The season is almost over, and the volunteer program is wrapping up. The groups are gone, tents come down, campgrounds are closing, and the paperwork is piling up (mainly due to me). We write reports, organize folders - all that fun administrative stuff. If I'm lucky (and productive) I manage to write a blog post. To some it may seem that we go out with a slight shuffling of paper, not even making a whimper.

Not at all!

We in the volunteer program love to go out with a bang, and what a bang it was when just this past week we had not one, but two large volunteer groups out to the park. Last week we were delighted to have both MEAD Alternative High School hailing from Spokane, Washington and REI Adventures from Kent, Washington join us in the park.

Mead Alternative has been a partner with the park for many years, making the long drive to Mount Rainier every season for a week long volunteer field trip. What they do varies from year to year, but this year the name of the game was reveg.

MEAD Alternative High School has been coming to the park for well over ten years now, and always brings a large crew with them. A group of thirty people, including teachers and adult chaperone's, joined Will Arnesen and his revegetation crew in helping to restore the lower Paradise parking lot. They stayed for an entire week, and put a much needed dent in the seemingly inexhaustible supply of plant from the greenhouse, all needing to go into the ground before snow renders the ground unreachable.

The weather for most of the week was horrible. Cold, foggy, and alternating between soggy and a light snow. Yet the students were enthusiastic, willing to work, and (though not always happy about the weather) happy to be helping. Nothing can quite exhaust a person and yet leave them pleased at the same time like working with their hands can.

MEAD High School’s connection to Mount Rainier runs deep. Year after year they come back, but more than that, judging from a picture sent to me, they never really leave. After returning home the group leader, Carol Allen, kindly provided me with this picture of a beautiful mural of Mount Rainier they have at school.

So thanks to MEAD Alternative High School for helping out. And tune in next time for pictures and info from our volunteer friends at REI Adventures. Till we meet again.

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