To celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day this year,, Orleans hosted a “Green Week” the last full week in April. Planned and implemented by Meg Quirk and Sebastian Wheeler, two AmeriCorps Cape Cod members, “Orleans Green Week” was a week-long service project which engaged the local community in a variety of environmental stewardship opportunities. In total, 723 native shrubs and trees were planted on local conservation and town lands, 300 students were involved in environmental and educational activities, and 300 white spruce seedlings were distributed to students and volunteers.
The week was multi-faceted:
- Students from the Riverview School and the Cape Cod Regional Technical High School in Harwich helped AmeriCorps Cape Cod (ACC) members plant native shrubs on several Orleans Conservation Trust (OCT) properties,
- ACC members helped maintain two OCT trail systems by removing invasive species and installing wooden boardwalks,
- ACC members gave a presentation on the importance of native ecology to the entire 6th grade at Nauset Regional Middle School, and
- Nauset Regional Middle School students helped ACC members to finish planting in the front entranceway of their school.
ACC member Meg Quirk, who co-managed this week of service, was grateful for the enthusiasm of all the school groups involved. “Throughout the week we worked with students from 5 years old to 18 years old,” Meg explained. “Involving the students was the best part of the week for me, I was constantly impressed. It didn’t matter if we were walking on an OCT trail in the rain with a group of spirited 5 year olds from the Family School or mulching the new plant beds at the Nauset Regional Middle School with 6th graders, each group impressed me with their positive energy and environmental awareness.” By successfully engaging over 300 students throughout the week, it was OCT’s and the Town’s hope that this project would help plant seeds of environmental stewardship among the youngest generation in our local community.
Sebastian Wheeler, the second ACC co-manager for “Orleans Green Week,” was impressed by the collaborative spirit that this week inspired. From the start, the project had the support of multiple organizations, not just in Orleans but throughout Barnstable County and Massachusetts. “Orleans Green Week” was co-sponsored by OCT, Barnstable County’s AmeriCorps Cape Cod, the Town of Orleans, Barnstable County’s Resource Development Office, the Massachusetts Service Alliance, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, NStar, the Orleans Community Partnership, and many other local organizations and companies. This week would not have been possible without the support of these organizations as well as the generous contributions of materials and food from over a dozen local businesses.
We are confident that this year’s successful celebration of Earth Day and Arbor Day, as part of “Orleans Green Week,” has created a foundation for future “green” initiatives in the town of Orleans.