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Firing Up the Next Generation of Land Stewards

The sight at Circle Creek Habitat Reserve was beautiful to behold: An unexpected spot of sunshine. Fields and forests alight with small touches of spring. And nearly a dozen young children scattered about to plant Sitka spruce trees and salmonberry shrubs.

These students were from Fire Mountain School, an elementary school in Arch Cape that prioritizes place-based education, “utilizing our coastal rainforest as the foundation for our learning.” On March 7, that learning took place at Circle Creek.

“It was definitely one of my all-time favorite days since I started working with NCLC,” Stewardship Assistant Callista Martin says. “We got super lucky with the weather, but even if it’d been cloudy and rainy, the kids were just a ray of sunshine.”

Restoration at Circle Creek

Since this little work party took place shortly after another volunteer cedar-planting event in February, the kids got to see all of the other small trees already in the ground.

“I hope they got the feeling that they were part of something bigger,” Callista says.

Additionally, the area that the stewardship staff selected for the students was against a backdrop of older spruce trees, planted about 15 years ago, so the kids could see what their trees would someday turn into. In general, NCLC has been working on restoring and rewilding Circle Creek since its acquisition in the early 2000s.

“I hope they got the feeling that they were part of something bigger.”

Stewardship Assistant Callista Martin

According to Callista, it also was special to have Executive Director Katie Voelke there, as she helped to plant the older group of trees on the property, and to witness her son now taking part in that same endeavor 15 years later.

“To watch a new generation interact with a Circle Creek that already looks very different than it did when the property was acquired felt gratifying, and hopeful,” Callista says. “It was a good reminder of why we do what we do—preserving and restoring land not necessarily for us, but for those who will come after us. My favorite moment was digging an extra ‘worm hole’ for some of the kids to mess around in, and their proud faces when they held up an earthworm for me to admire!”

A couple young volunteers follow Stewardship Assistant Callista Martin as she creates holes for planting cedar trees.


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