Andrew Major, SNPT Communications Fellow
The mission of the Trust’s Play Learn Serve program is to create access to learning and service opportunities for youth in our region. As part of Play Learn Serve, and to celebrate National Volunteer Week this past April, the Cville LADYS took a trip to Shenandoah to learn more about their backyard national park, and complete a service project.
LADYS (which stands for Leadership, Advancement and Development of our Young Sisters) is a mentorship program for young women of color that emphasizes academics and emotional support between young girls in order to help them reach their full potential and succeed in the professional world. The LADYS Program worked with park staff to plan a day in the park to allow their members to experience working in nature.
The girls started by going through the Birds of Prey ranger program and were thrilled to see a screech owl first hand, and learn about the other birds of prey that call our park home. Unfortunately, the weather was rainy and a thick fog blanketed the park so instead of a hike the girls toured the Byrd Visitor Center to learn the history of the park through the various exhibits.
By the afternoon, the girls were ready to get out and volunteer. Despite the weather the group put on their rain gear and went out to into Big Meadows to work cutting down black locust seedlings that are threatening to take over the native species in the area.
Margaret Speicher, the park’s Natural & Cultural Resource Volunteer Coordinator, said “this was a great group of girls, they were such troopers, they were so willing to learn and asked a ton of questions. It was a phenomenal experience for me and for them. These girls were excited about coming back to help in the future. They saw the importance of the park and what we were doing. This is a place that they want to spend their time and dedicate themselves to. It’s a really great program we are hoping to foster that relationship for future projects.”
Thank you so much to our donors who made this experience possible!