New Germany Rural High School students took their learning outside at the November 17, 2016 Youth Trail Building Workshop, held at a developing recreation site known as the River Ridge Commons.
The 28 NGHRS students were joined by a dozen students from NSCC's Natural Resources Environmental Technology program, who were on site for an ecological tour. Some NGHRS students opted to join the NSCC tour, while the other half worked on a section of trail along Ross Brook.
Under the direction of volunteers and Trail Consultant Garnet McLaughlin, the trail-building students hauled gravel to other students, who raked and levelled. Meanwhile, another group built natural park benches with McLaughlin's help.
While the end result was a beautiful section of trail approximately 100 metres long, the most important outcome was the learning experience and the opportunity for students to take pride in their community.
“I observed first-hand students who struggle in the classroom setting become leaders, decision makers and problem solvers in the field,” said Geoff Marshall, a teacher from New Germany Rural High School in attendance.
Photo: students moved crusher dust by the wheelbarrow-load to
the trail, where other students leveled the path.
Post-workshop feedback revealed that over 90% of students felt they learned something valuable, all students felt they benefitted physically, and 100% of the students felt that their day was well spent.
Students also learned the impact their volunteering can have on the bigger picture.
“A lot of volunteers don’t realize when they get out and do something, and it’s recorded, the government recognizes that as in-kind contributions,” explained McLaughlin to the students. “For every hour put in, they can triple the money for infrastructure that’s required. So by the end of today, we’re probably looking at close to $3000 in volunteer hours—so that’s $9000 of infrastructure that we can fundraise from other sources.”
Photo: Garnet McLaughlin works with students to build
natural park benches on-site.
The workshop was a partnership between NS Trails, Communities, Culture and Heritage, the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg, and New Germany Rural High School. The workshop is a template for future youth workshops across the province and part of a larger effort to get youth involved in the trail movement.