U.S. Department of the Interior visits campus Photo: Middle school students at Holy Trinity Episcopal School enjoy a visit from members of the U.S. Department of Interior’s program, “Take Pride in America.” Students do their part to preserve public parks by adopting a trail in Jesse Jones Park. From the left are: Lisa Young, U.S. Department of the Interior; Marlese Davis, program coordinator, students Christopher Rodeheaver, Leandra Alonso-McClinch, and Jordan Hebert, and Aaron Hase, Take Pride in America. Photo by Kathy Park Representatives from the U.S. Department of the Interior’s “Take Pride In America” program visited the campus of Holy Trinity Episcopal School on April 17. “We are touring the south, fanning the flame of volunteerism,” said Aaron Hase, associate director of media and public relations, Department of the Interior. “Take Pride in America” is a national program that encourages and recognizes volunteers, in a variety of categories, who help improve public spaces. Middle school students at the school have adopted a trail at Jesse R. Jones Park that they help to keep clean. “The program was started by President Ronald Regan in 1980 as a way to combat vandalism taking place in America’s public parks,” said Hase. Today more than 400,000 volunteers participate in the program, and help improve public parks, forests, grasslands, reservoirs, wildlife refuges, cultural and historic sites, local playgrounds and other recreation areas. Hase said the school was one of the flagship organizations of the program. Groups who adopt a trail are asked to commit to work a full workday, followed by one-half workdays, every three months. They spend their time removing invasive, non-native plants from the trail. This requires students to learn about plants and recognize which plants should be removed. “That enthusiasm or passion is the heart of our program,” said Hase, adding that the school has gone above and beyond what is required. Marlece Davis is the middle school teacher and program coordinator. “These are fabulous students,” said Davis. “Together we have created monarch butterfly, bird and dragonfly sanctuaries on campus. They work hard in the park and have a passion to change the world.” Eighth-grade student Leandra Alonso-McClinch said that it was one thing to work on campus and create things for fellow students to explore and enjoy, but she likes the idea of getting out into the public parks, where her work benefits a broader audience. Last year, students were named a “Take Pride in America” winner. Nineteen students traveled to Washington D.C. to accept their award. Parent and volunteer Jeff Plumber said they were given a tour of the White House and free transportation passes to see all the sights. They stayed at the capital for four days. Holy Trinity has stepped-up their work and applied again this year, but won’t know anything until June 1. For more information, visit www.holytrinityes.org.

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