service learning at its best

SJU Reflections

Thank you Ellen. We enjoyed every minute we got to spend with you and your group. And what a creative way to show us your “thoughts” on the trip to SW Virginia and St. Paul. It is amazing how much got accomplished in just a few days! We hope the road that brought you here will bring you back for another visit. We’d love to see you again… shovels and paint brushes optional!

Here’s some photos from lunch on Friday. We’d love to see some of the photos the group took. Send them on and we’ll post them for everyone to enjoy.

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SJU Visits St. Paul

Most university students spend spring break relaxing and recooperating from their studies. They go home, visit family and friends. Not all! We’ve been fortunate to have a great group of students visit St. Paul this week. Not to kick back and relax… to work! And work they have done, for a solid week. From painting, to mulching, to moving furniture, powerwashing, more mulching, you name it and these young people have done it for us. And they’ve done it with smiles on their faces and love in their hearts.

The Town of St. Paul is hosting this group of about 30 from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia as they spend their spring break in service to others through their Appalachian Spring Break Service Immersion Program. Wetlands Estonoa is only one of the sites they’ve worked on this week and we were honored to have them here! Tonight, Team Estonoa hosted dinner and a presentation of our various projects…  and got to know everyone a little better.

Team Estonoa on ParadeIt was a perfect day for a parade and there’s no place better to be a participant or spectator than at the St. Paul Christmas Parade. Tomorrow is a workday at the Wetlands but today… well today, we’re in a parade! Being part of Team Estonoa is and adventure in itself  and today was no exception!

Team Estonoa Helps OCC

For those who don’t know what OCC stands for, it is Operation Christmas Child. On Sunday, November 13, some team members helped out with a shoebox packing party at the First Baptist Church in St. Paul. They helped younger children prepare and pack shoeboxes full of toys, hygiene items, school supplies and candy to be passed out around the world… including the United States. It was a fun party and once again, Team Estonoa gave their time to the community to help others.

Stop, look and listen. It’s good advice before crossing a busy street. It’s also great advice when taking a stroll around the Wetlands. There is wonder around every turn along the path – you just have to pay attention. You might spy a woodpecker atop a tree tapping for a snack, or a furry friend foraging for the last of the wild berries.

Today, it was an adult box turtle basking in the sun beside the path. A slight rustling in the dry leaves gave it’s position away as it stretched its legs to soak up the warmth. Soon it will tuck away some place safe for a Winter rest. But today, it offered us a learning opportunity as members of Team Estonoa took a break from grounds maintenance to check it out.  “What kind of turtle?” “How old do you think it is?” Why is it flatter than other box turtles I’ve seen?” “Is it a male or female?”

The Clinch River Strategic Planning, Environmental Ed. Committee met at Estonoa Learning Center last night to discuss action items and goals developed at their October 4 Community Workshop. It was a working dinner meeting and Team Estonoa members Susanna Shepard, Kayla Sullivan and Mikaela Campbell were there to lend support and share ideas for one of the action items open for discussion – informational signage at access points along the Clinch River.  Susanna and Kayla presented some basic ideas to the committee.  Committee members present for the meeting included representatives from Dominion Resources, UTRR (Upper Tennessee River Roundtable), the Town of St. Paul, Wetlands Estonoa, UVA’s Institute for Environment Negotiation and local educators. It was a productive meeting and a great experience for “The Team.”

Why We Grow Mussels

So, why do we propagate and grow mussels in OUR Clinch River? This pictorial demonstration may help answer that question.

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Need we say more !?!