School Service Projects


Fall 2013

Mears Middle School

photo 3One of our most rewarding projects this fall has been our continued partnership with Mears Middle School.  This fall, we witnessed the opening of the Campbell Creek Estuary Natural Area, a project led by our partners, the Great Land Trust and the Anchorage Park Foundation. In past years, youth have helped to removed materials from the demolition of the farmhouse, and transplanted native vegetation to the site. This year, youth were able to participate in meaningful service learning as they helped with new trail construction at the park, leading up to the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony that took place in October.

photo 3Also in October, Alaska Geographic, the Chugach Children’s Forest, and the Anchorage Waterways Council joined students on a field trip to do activities such as habitat surveys and water quality testing in the Natural Area. Students took hula hoop transects and observed the diversity of species in the different ecosystems present at Campbell Creek Estuary. Students were excited about working towards a comprehensive Species List for plants and wildlife at the park.


Fall 2012

Mears Middle School once again descended on the Campbell Creek Estuary to help restore the uplands areas to natural habitat. In the past three years the work has proceeded from removing materials from the demolition of the farmhouse to transplanting native vegetation to cover up any signs a house was there at all. This fall, each student had the opportunity to go out on to the estuary, view eagles and migratory birds through scopes and binoculars, and learn a little about the importance of wetlands to wildlife and to humans. And – they go on TV!

Highland Technical High School In mid-September, Ayme Johnson and her teaching team from Highland Tech High School in Anchorage brought eighty students to the Chugach National Forest, where they integrated math, science, social studies, and language arts into service projects to restore habitat in the Portage area. Forty of the hardiest students ventured through the Tunnel to Whittier, to work alongside a  Forest Service trail crew to repair erosion damage on the Portage Pass Trail. The cleared brush and spread gravel and rock along a stretch of trail with drainage issues.

On the other side of the mountain, students helped build a salmon nursery from logs tied together into a large triangle filled with brush. The structure will be dragged onto river ice in the winter to sink as the ice melts, providing shelter for young salmon. Other students helped forest service botanists with revegetation of stream backs with native sedges grown in native soils to reduce the possibility of introducing nonnative species. See the story in Townsquare49!

Begich Middle School Teacher Scott McKim brought sixty technology students on a remarkably rain-free trip to Portage Valley to work help the forest service finish up the salmon nursery project, and help out with a habitat enhancement project to protect Pale Poppies, a beautiful little flower that doesn’t compete well with non-natives. Begich students were also treated to a hike featuring fresh bear-scat and great views of salmon spawning grounds.

Support for the fall school service projects in the Chugach NF come from the Kenai Peninsula-Anchorage Borough Resource Advisory Committee and the Prince William Sound Resource Advisory Committee through the Rural Schools Act.


Spring 2012

It was a busy spring! We sponsored 7 field trip days, reaching a total of 540 students participated in stewardship projects that included: bird cherry removal, trash clean-up, mini-Bioblitzes (geo-located bird and invertebrate surveys for long term data sets) and Project Budburst data collection (target species: poplar, dandelion and yarrow).

We also worked with students in the classroom to prepare ESRI maps using ArcGIS Online. A totalof 22 teachers were involved, along with 4 USFS biologists, 32 adult volunteers, and many partners including BLM, Anchorage Parks Foundation, Anchorage Waterways Council, Anchorage MUNI, and Audubon Alaska. Four of the teachers had been through the iTREC! program…

Fall 2011

Mears Middle School

Invasive Species Removal In fall, more than 100 Mears students and their teachers met with staff of the Municipality of Anchorage to remove young bird cherry trees from Tikishla Park, which overtake native forests and cause harm to moose and fish. The kids also tested the water quality of Chester Creek, and learned about the unique spruce bog habitats that once blanketed Anchorage. Most fun though, was the geocache event where kids used GPS units to find hidden messages throughout the forest!

Iditarod Trail Enhancement How many students does it take to screw on an Iditarod Historical Trail marker? The answer: 28 – five to attach it and 23 to give advice. The students hiked along the historic Iditarod trail, searching for fall’s last flowers and first berries in Chugach State Park, while replacing worn signage along the way, led by State Park Rangers and Children’s Forest staff. Down the road in Girdwood, 30 more Mears students with wheelbarrows slogged gravel in the rain to shore up soggy trails under the guidance of Ranger Alison Rein. Afterwards they were treated to a hike to Windy Gorge to learn that trails can lead to exciting adventures –the Windy Gorge hand tram, the last of its kind in Alaska.

Campbell Creek Estuary In spring and fall of 2011, more than 200 Mears students worked with staff from the Great Land Trust to ready the visitors’ area of the new Campbell Creek Estuary Several wood buildings were demolished to prepare for public use of the site, and students removed debris and separated it for recycling. Mears science teachers led wildlife monitoring of the field while Chugach Forest staff brought the kids down into the estuary to learn why this incredible resource is so important.

Begich Middle School

Kincaid Park Cleanup On a sunny spring day in May, 30 students from Begich Middle School chose to remove everything unwanted, from trash to invasive weeds, from the beautiful coastline surrounding Kincaid Park for their May Intensive, a special learning session to celebrate their year of hard work. The following day, they headed for the Chugach to compile photo journals of the wildlands they encountered.

King Career Center

Natural Resource Management Teacher Mike Woods of the King Career Center has been a long-standing partner of the Chugach Children’s Forest. Each summer, KCC students experience the beauty and mystery of Alaska while exploring careers in the natural resources. In summer 2011, students ventured to Portage Valley, to transplant moss from the deep forest to reconstructed areas around the Begich-Boggs Visitors’ Center, and then set up what was for many of them their first experience camping out-of-doors. The following week they journeyed on the Alaska Railroad to Seward, where they joined National Park Service personnel for a glacier hike, a class on invasive plants, and a grand dandelion-pulling session along the roadway. See the video

Homebase After School Program

Climate Change Studies The Homebase After School program gives between 20 and 25 kids from Anchorage’s Fairview area a safe, educational, and fun place to go after school, Led by teacher Shirley Mae Springer, the kids learn science, math and music. In spring of 2011, Chugach Children’s Forest staff brought science into the classroom and kids out of the classroom to learn about climate change through carbon dioxide studies, creek monitoring projects, birch-tree syrup tapping, and mountain hikes.

Iditarod Trail to Every Classroom (iTREC!)

Many of the teachers we partner with for these service projects have completed the iTREC! professional development trainng, a year-long 3 workshop program that connects rural and urban teachers, classrooms, and public lands throughout Alaska. Learn more.