Education Matters: Growing the next generation of conservationists

Education

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – Fires and drought conditions are taking a toll on our national parks – but valley students are being taught how to help restore them.

A volunteer organization is growing the next generation of conservationists and teaching them science at the same time. The meadows inside Yosemite National Park are a relaxing sea of beauty and home to hundreds of plants and animal species.

400 additional acres of critical wetlands were recently donated to Yosemite, but the meadow is in need of restoration.

“Meadows are an incredibly important habitat of the entire Sierra Nevada landmass,” said the director of Nature Corps Mark Landon. “Meadows make up only 2% – but they support 75% of the wildlife.”

Nature Corp, a volunteer conservation organization, aided by a group of students from Coalinga High School are working to help restore Ackerson Meadow.

“In order to restore the meadow, the park services has 700 pounds of seed to get it propagated so that it can replant native flora to the area.”

That is the job of these students, they go from plant to plant gathering seeds.

“We have to choose the right one, there are some that are similar so it’s important to choose the ones that are ready to be picked,” said Coalinga High School student Miriam Vasquez.

They learn about the natural habitat, what grows here, and why it is important.

“We were told that there is a bird that is only found in this specific area and with this seed we are doing will actually help that bird thrive,” said Coalinga High School student Connor Waskiewicz.

The restoration project includes filling in a large erosion gully that is draining wetlands in the meadow.

“Once this is back like they want it to be I can come back and visit and just think to myself ‘wow, I helped do this,’ I helped turn something into this beautiful wilderness.”

This is not only an opportunity for these students to be out in nature, it is a hands-on science project supported by Chevron. The energy company has partnered with Nature Corp for over 25 years.

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