Youth Ambassadors Trip Report: Work Party and Salmon Viewing with NSEA

The Youth Leadership Ambassadors program is an extension of our Youth Leadership Adventures summer program. The goal of the program is to further develop leadership and outdoor skills, facilitate service and stewardship in our local communities and ecosystems, and provide college preparedness support to high school students from Skagit and Whatcom County. While serving as Ambassadors, students will participate in work parties, attend field trip and receive 15 hours of college access curriculum. Ambassadors will contribute blog posts covering their adventures throughout the year here on Chattermarks.

Appearing for the first time on Chattermarks is Ellie Price, the Youth Ambassadors and College Access Coordinator. In this post she shares the experience of two high school Youth Ambassadors being joined by Western Washington University graduate students to work on a local stewardship project. 

Ellie Price, Inna Mayer, Taylor Ulrich, and Tavish Beals are ready for a day of service and fun!

Everyone met at Bellingham’s Maritime Heritage Park in the morning to remove invasive vine weeds from a hillside and replace them with native plants. Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association (NSEA) provided tools, snacks, and directions for the work to be done. We formed a team, were handed buckets, shovels, and gloves and quickly got to work. We began by removing the tangled and rampant vine weeds from the ground, especially where they intertwined with native plants. We all worked our way up the hillside until we reached the top, and then turned around to begin planting native plants where we had been.

Photo by Ellie Price

Native plants help reduce erosion and create a more natural habitat for the flora and fauna to grow and live. The vine weed removes resources from these locations and leaves native plants to die. Our team did our part to change this situation, and everyone had a blast digging and shoveling their way up the hill. We finished up by spreading mulch around all the newly planted plants and surveyed our work – it looked incredible! The hillside had been transformed by over ninety volunteers and three hours of work. Thanks NSEA for your dedication to salmonids and their habitat!

Graduate student in the 16th Cohort, Sarah Clement removes invasives with Inna; Photo by Ellie Price

Next we stopped for lunch and then headed to our next activity – salmon viewing! NSEA had another event happening at Arroyo park from noon to until three. They provided glasses to better see the salmon through the river, identification cards that described local salmon, and interpreters to talk natural history to us. Inna and Tavish filled out a bingo card with questions about the life cycle of salmonids and we all learned new facts. We saw a few very large salmon in the river and some carcasses, but were told that as the rains increased the number of salmon in the creek would increase to the hundreds. So get down to Arroyo Park and check out this natural resource we have in our backgrounds!

(Top Photo) The students and instructors wear special salmon viewing glasses at Arroyo Park in Bellingham

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