By EMILIE NELSON
Messenger staff writer
Sixteen locations throughout Fort Dodge got an extra in hand taking care of spring spruce-up projects Tuesday morning and afternoon with the help of students from St. Edmond High School.
More than 250 high school students spent a portion of their school day at the various sites around town and at the school picking up trash, pulling weeds, spreading mulch and even planting a garden.
At the Almost Home Animal Shelter, a group of 20 students spent their morning pulling weeds cleaning up the landscaping and walking path around the shelter, folding towels and washing dog and cat dishes. After the work was done, the students enjoyed a little quality time with the dogs, taking a few of them for walks.
"I thought this would be a fun place to volunteer," said student Aubriegh Yetmar. "I like animals and wanted to come see what Almost Home is all about and what goes on here."
At the Paula J. Baber Hospice Home, physical education and health teacher Paula Templemeyer worked with students Nick Hindt, Keaton Burns, Landon Peed and Sean Finucan to rake and add a new layer of mulch to the trees in the yard surrounding the facility.
"They're four very nice, hard-working young men," Templemeyer said of her crew. "I think the day has gone over very smoothly for the first time we've tried it."
Back at the school, a group of about 30 students helped pick up trash, pull weeds, pick up sticks and place fresh mulch in the landscaping. After lunch they were joined by a group of fourth and fifth grade students who also helped clean up the school grounds. When the elementary students were told it was time to break from cleanup for recess, they hoped they could continue their service project.
"This is our recess," a group of them said when they were called to line up and head for the playground. "It's way better than recess."
St. Edmond Administrative Assistant Nancy Richman helped oversee the cleanup on the school grounds.
"We've had a great group," she said. "One crew spent the morning at the Fort Museum and joined us this afternoon and the elementary kids loved helping out."
Richman said what the students accomplished on the school grounds in one day could have taken the school maintenance staff weeks to do by themselves.
"This could easily take a whole summer what our students accomplished today," Richman said. "We went through two full pallets of mulch in just a couple of hours."
"It's been fun," said junior Seth Reel. "We were out at the Fort this morning, there's a lot to do."
A special project especially for the school was a new garden being tilled and planted by the environmental science class.
"The class took it upon themselves to design a garden and provide the labor," said science teacher Amy Keenan. "They're learning to till, plant and space their own garden."
The vegetables planted Tuesday will be grown throughout the summer and donated to local food pantries. Keenan hopes to plant a fall garden at the start of the 2012-2013 school year to provide fresh produce for the school's kitchen and salad bar.
Patrick Crimmins was one of the students who spent his day raking and planting in the garden.
"It's actually been pretty fun," he said. "Definitely something different; I've never done anything like it, it was different than going out and picking up trash."
In addition to the cleanup projects more than 400 elementary and middle school students also pitched in with various in-school service activities including potting and delivering flowers to neighboring homes around the school, visiting the Marian Home and making may baskets.
The service day was made possible with a $6,000 grant from the Reach Out Iowa Network, a service learning program through 4-H and the National Service-Learning Clearinghouse, as well as a 15 percent in-kind donation.
Contact Emilie Nelson at (515) 573-2141 or email@example.com