Well, Friday was National Youth Service Day where youth all over the country volunteer for a local environment or social service. On Friday we partnered with Denver Parks and Recreation and Greenprint Denver’s Mile High Million Initiative, a quest to plant one million trees by 2025 which in turn will remove 300 million pounds of CO2 from the atmosphere.
We arrived at our head quarter building with high hopes and a caffeine high that could send a bull into a frenzy. Already nature had decided to not go easy on us with a steady drizzle of rain, so we loaded up on pure “motivation” from our commander and chief Bob Ridgeway. We got to the park anxious to plant some baby trees, but by now the drizzle turned to sheets of steady rain.
Still, we split up, grabbed shovels, rakes, wire cutters, and pick axes to try to see which team would plant the most trees and yet the temperature continued to drop. We met our first tree, a willow, it was lying near a rapidly filling pool in a dug hole, that would soon be its home. We approached it as a team, throwing out ideas, tugging, snipping, pulling and then SNAP! the tree was free from the wire and burlap sack basket.
“Push on three” we said, “One! Two! Three!” We heaved, dug our muddy heels in and with a thump, the tree rolled into the hole. “Yes!” We cheered as the rain pounded against the ground and on our dark blue rain jackets. Our team was soaked, muddy, numb, yet we celebrated as we made our way to the next tree.
Eventually, soaked to the bone and plenty of trees planted, we headed to the vans. Each team was the same; smiles on all our tired, red faces. The trip back was quiet, exhaustion set in, but with a satisfying twist, our sponsor thanked us with a feast of barbecue fit for kings and queens — even the vegetarians had not been forgotten with their own veggie burgers.
As the rain turned to snow we, the Mile High Youth Corps settled back to enjoy our reward, knowing on the grand scale we had actually made a difference. Thanks Denver Parks and Rec!
-Ed Flores, Water Conservation Senior Corpsmember