Ingrid Cuero, November 5, 2022
Saturday mornings come early for college students, but with the support of the LEAP Center, the Boys & Girls Club of Walker County, Trees for Houston, and landscape architect Falon Mihalic, more than 20 SHSU students had a productive Saturday morning–planting, and planning, for the future.
The project involved planting flowers, shrubs, and trees around the Boys and Girls Club playground, beautifying the grounds, improving the environment, and enhancing the educational experiences for the boys and girls of Walker County.
The morning began with Michelle Spencer, Director of the Boys & Girls Club of Walker County, giving us a tour and history of the organization and its programs. From arts and crafts to board games to yoga to homework time, students engage in various activities designed to help them mature physically, intellectually, and emotionally.
Such programs are funded with a 1 million dollar budget–much of which comes from grants and donors (click here to give!)–and directed by dedicated staff.
For many of the children in Walker County, this is the only program where they can have a safe and educational environment to be when parents are not. But it is not simply a day care; each of its programs are designed along best practices for educating young people to reach their fullest potential.
While most of the students were captivated by the game room, the LEAP Ambassadors–who helped lead the project–were taken by the Arts room, where the “Blue Dog” art-work of George Rodrigues was featured.
After learning more about the Boys and Girls Club and its wonderful programs, we moved to learning about the planting of trees from Travis Weddle, Program Coordinator for Trees for Houston.
The process involved several steps: (1) staking, (2) digging, (3) prepping, (4) planting, and (5) berming and mulching.
Mr. Weddle did a great job of walking us through these steps, breaking us into teams, and providing the occasional reminder of how to do things.
What followed was much digging, bending, planting, rearranging dirt, watering–and a lot of teamwork.
With student volunteers ranging in age from 18-51 working alongside one another, we also had a chance to make new friends. It was a new learning experience in every sense of the word: from learning about the environment and biology, to learning about the community, and to learning about each other.
As the lunch hour began to pass, we began to finish up. We took the time to pose for photographs with our work and to reflect on our experiences.
Although the trees are far from maturity, we decided they had a pleasant effect on the landscape.
Our new friendships, too, formed a foundation for future endeavors.
And, taken together, we believe a bright future–for us and the community–has taken root.