July 13, 2006 – Several trails in St. John's V.I. National Park got some much-needed work this summer thanks to the monthlong efforts of 10 youths from the Student Conservation Association and the Friends of the Park group.
The crew worked on the Caneel Hill Trail, two trails at Cinnamon Bay, Ram Head trail, and the Reef Bay trail. Crew co-leader Jeffrey Glenn, 23, said Thursday that most of the effort went to the popular Reef Bay Trail.
They cleared brush, built water bars, rebuilt trails and did myriad other projects that the park doesn't have staff or money to complete.
"We did everything from re-vegetation of eroded areas to construction of stone stairs," Glenn, an Amherst, Mass., resident, said Thursday.
The crew arrived June 15 and is departing Friday.
Friends Program Manager Kristen Maize said that the crew's two co-leaders were trained in trail maintenance by the Student Conservation Association. The organization enlisted four students from the states, and the Friends group recruited four from the Virgin Islands to make up the crew.
She said that three of the V.I. contingent came from St. Croix and one from St. Thomas.
"I just like helping the environment because I want to study environmental science," St. Thomas resident Henrietta Alexander said. The 17-year-old is a recent Eudora Kean High School graduate.
Shanya Hanley, a 16-year-old student at St. Croix Educational Complex, said she liked the fact that she got to work in a group. "I got to work on my teamwork skills," she said.
Katie Little, 17, of Austin, Texas, said she enjoyed the fact that she got to meet people she wouldn't ordinarily have a chance to know. "And it was nice to get away from cell phones and iPods," she said.
She said she also enjoyed roughing it at Cinnamon Bay Campground.
Callum Auer, 17, of Vashon, Wash., said he also enjoyed meeting "all kinds of new people," adding, "And it looks good for colleges."
Glenn, who will be a junior this fall at Hampshire College in Amherst, said he wishes he had similar opportunities when he was in high school.
He said he has a passion for conservation and working with youths interested in environmental awareness. "This was too good to pass up," he said.
The Student Conservation Association is based in Charlestown, N.H. According to its Web site, it places students at various federal, state and local agencies to do a vast variety of jobs.
The youths from the mainland receive housing in a tent at Cinnamon Bay Campground and their food.
Maize said that the Friends paid for transportation to St. John for the V.I. youths, their housing at Cinnamon Bay Campground and their food. Additionally, the V.I. youths each got $1,000 to use for their education.
She said the entire monthlong program costs the Friends $30,000, which was funded by an anonymous donor.
Maize said that the crew's work significantly reduces erosion, as well as making the trails safer for hikers. "But it's hard work," she added.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.