A garden requires patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them. – Liberty Hyde Bailey
This summer, two students from Greenville High School (GHS) participated in Sierra Institute’s inaugural summer garden internship program. This program, supported by the Plumas National Forest, allowed students to learn about restoration principles, plant care and maintenance, and figure out what exactly it takes for a plant to thrive under their watch.
The two interns, Tristin Clark and Blake McIntosh, were selected after submitting applications and going through a competitive interview process. Their internships lasted eight weeks from mid-June to mid-August, and they logged about 20 hours per week doing activities associated with plant propagation and maintenance.
Greenville High School math, woodshop, and garden teacher Dan Brown took the interns under his wing to teach them about all aspects related to running a garden. The interns were taught how to build shade structures to protect plants that prefer shadier environments, how to install irrigation systems to ensure plants stay watered even through the weekends, as well as techniques like transplanting plants to ensure a smooth transition into their new environment. Mr. Brown’s expertise in carpentry also created the opportunity for the interns to learn how to build a shed for housing tools for the garden area. Tristin and Blake learned about rough framing, composition roofing, and measurement and precision in order to build the shed.
The interns also spent time working with Courtney Gomola from Sierra Institute’s Natural Resource Education Programs. One highlight of this work involved collecting willow stems from Willow Creek in the Moonlight Fire area. Courtney, Blake and Tristin met with Forest Service’s Chris Koppel to take cuttings from three different species of willows in this drainage, which the interns would then plant into pots at the GHS garden and care for over the summer. These plants will be used to restore eroded stream banks in the Moonlight burn footprint.
The interns used what they learned about willows to educate a group of day campers from the Indian Valley Elementary School Apollo Program. Tristin, Blake, and Courtney took two groups of students down to Wolf Creek to explore erosion around the creek bed, and talk about why restoration is important and what role willows play in preventing erosion. Students were taught how to properly collect willow stems for planting without damaging the parent plant. Blake and Tristin then worked with each student to plant a willow at the GHS Garden that the students could water and watch grow.
Sierra Institute is excited about the success of this program in the first year. We’d like to send a huge thank you to Mr. Brown for the dozens of hours that he volunteered in working with the interns. We’d also like to thank Jerry Merica-Jones, IVES/GHS principal, for connecting us with the Apollo program and letting us use school facilities for this work. The support from the US Forest Service in funding this program as well as providing logistical support and expertise was invaluable. We look forward to providing this opportunity for new students next summer!