Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Answering the Call to Serve: MLK Day Weed Pull

The MLK Day of Service invasive weed pull is an important project for the Americorps team and a yearly tradition at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center (PTMSC). Each year volunteers from around the community gather to embrace the power of collective action, and this year was no different.

Americorps and volunteers braved the wind to pull invasive dune grass on the beach
On MLK Day, Volunteers and Americorps met at the Marine Science Center to help make MLK Day a day on, not a day off. Dedicated volunteers chose to serve their community and restore native beach habitats at Fort Worden by removing invasive plants. Rebecca started the afternoon with a call to service from Martin Luther King Jr. himself:

“Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” —Martin Luther King Jr.

As Americorps, we have already chosen to answer a call of service with our decision to serve at the Marine Science Center. On MLK Day, we asked the community of Port Townsend to join us in a day of service and celebration of the activist's legacy, and they answered. Over thirty volunteers gathered to learn about the history of invasive plants at Fort Worden and worked together to change that history.
Rebecca explains the differences between native and invasive dune grasses
After learning how to identify the weeds we would be pulling, it was time to head out to the beach. Despite strong winds and unpleasant weather, 31 volunteers donated 89 hours to pull over 1,100 pounds of invasive weeds. The large pile ready to be hauled away at the end of the day was an impressive testament to the dedication of our volunteers, staff, and the Port Townsend community.

Zofia and Katie keeping our invasive dune grass pullers motivated
In addition to the European dune grass that was planted in the park decades ago to stabilize the dunes, volunteers targeted invasive Scotch Broom as part of an ongoing eradication project led by the trail crew at Fort Worden, another excellent example of dedication to service.

A load of Scotch broom ready to be hauled away

The PTMSC Americorps team (plus guests!) gather to celebrate a tough day of weed-pulling

This event wouldn't have been possible without the help of numerous community organizations and individuals who donated their time, skills, and supplies. Thank you to the Friends of Fort Worden, Washington State Parks, the North Olympic Salmon Coalition, the Washington Native Plant Society, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Thanks also to Jan North, Forest Shomer, and Ranger Todd Jensen. Thank you also to Katie, Zofia, and Rebecca for their work in organizing, promoting, and running a successful weed pull. And most of all, thank you to the community members from Port Townsend and beyond who joined us in our MLK Day of Service.
Volunteers and staff return to the NHE after another successful weed pull

CAROLYN WOODS is the Natural History Exhibit and Volunteer Educator and an AmeriCorps Member serving at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center.

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