Every Friday, Spencer Mesick advises a PRIDE session called “Outdoor Environmental Conservation,” during which students travel around school grounds to work with nature on campus.
“We don’t always know where we’re going, but we always have some basic ideas of what we’ll end up doing, whether it’s picking up trash or clearing out invasive species,” said sophomore Eli Skeen.
In the fall, students in this PRIDE often venture to the school creek, which is located just behind the bus shed, and do anything from fishing to picking up litter. While the creek is tucked away behind trees and brush, sophomore Pamela Murcia said it’s still important to keep it healthy.
“We’re trying to create healthy and diverse habitats for native plants and animals anywhere we can, and the creek is probably the best place for wildlife since it’s really the only water source on campus,” said Murcia.
Murcia said that since the creek is located just off Tanglefoot Lane, litter and debris often ends up either in the water or on its banks. She said that they have also found turtles in the creek, and that means that it’s especially important to keep the water clean since they know that wildlife inhabits the area.
If the weather is bad, the class stays inside and makes plans for future meetings. Sophomore Cooper Kellenberger said that they have plenty of ideas laid out for their next gatherings.
“We’re going to make a big pathway down to the creek, so it’s much easier to access, which will hopefully make people visit more. Plus we’re going to build butterfly houses and plant milkweed, so we can have more butterflies on campus, and that’s likely going to be a big help to the ecosystem on school grounds,” said Kellenberger.
Skeen, Murcia, and Kellenberger have all been attending this PRIDE session since coming to Bettendorf, and they said that much progress has been made since they joined. They’ve already made progress on the pathway to the creek, and they said that they have found several species of fish in the creek.
Last spring, the group went to the school’s wooded area and removed garlic mustard, an invasive plant species. However, Skeen said it’s a job they’ll have to repeat in the years to come.
“Garlic mustard is one of those plants that come back every year, no matter how much you clear it out the year before. We can’t just let it be because that’ll hurt all of the native species in the area, so removing it is something we’ll have to do every spring,” said Skeen.
Murcia said she enjoys attending these sessions even if they get repetitive and will continue to help out until she graduates.
“Anything I can do and take part in to help the environment, even if it’s picking up garbage over and over again, will always interest me. Plus it’s a fun way to do some of my favorite things with my favorite people,” said Murcia.
Murcia said that if anyone is interested in helping with nature on campus, Mesick’s PRIDE session is a great way to get involved. If a student is unable to attend these sessions, Murcia suggests talking to Mesick about joining the Community Conservation Club.