NHS Ecology Club tackling service project at Niles parks

Published 8:43 am Thursday, March 18, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Despite the cold weather, the Niles High School Ecology Club began its project to improve our community's parks on Tuesday.
A group of six high school students and their teacher Eira McDaniel met after school at Island Park in Niles to discuss improvements they will try to make to the park.
The students who braved the cold for the hour-long planning meeting were Adam Passig, Brittney Passig, Lesley Simanton, Jessica Murphy, Heather Croteau and Jeremy Croteau.
McDaniel has been heading up the high school's Ecology Club for 10 years now and thinks it is important to keep the club going.
The members of the Ecology Club present at Tuesday's meeting will be participating in the 2004 Michigan Envirothon, an event that invites schools to participate in a environmentally based competition. The event includes training, testing and the presentation of each team's community outreach projects.
There are two teams of five members from Niles High School participating in the regional Envirothon at Fort Custer Park near Battle Creek on March 26. The state competition will be on May 11 and 12 at Lake Ann near Traverse City.
Each team is required to undertake a community service project and this year the teams are combining to make improvements to both Island Park and Riverfront Park in Niles.
So far, plans include cleaning up Island Park and making it more community friendly and implementing labels to identify different species of trees at Riverfront Park.
Ecology Club President Adam Passig said the labels are meant to make the community more aware of the different kinds of trees in our area.
On Tuesday, the group surveyed Island Park to see what was wrong with the park and what they could do to change it.
The students had cameras and notebooks to record their thoughts as McDaniel led them around the island.
When they arrived at the park, the environmentally conscious group immediately found a number of changes that could be made.
Students pointed out the need for more garbage cans to decrease the amount of litter, a sign for dog owners to pick up after their pets and a few benches that need to be replaced.
After walking along the perimeter of the park, the ecology club saw the need to decrease erosion in the park and the need to remove a large dead tree that could become a safety hazard in the future. The group also made a decision to keep a smaller dead tree because of the habitat that it provides.
The students involved in the club share McDaniel's passion for the environment and think it is important to start think about these issues at a young age.
Next Tuesday, the group will meet after school at Riverfront Park to discuss plans to create tree labels for the park.