Upper School students participate in community service projects

Participating in local service trips for Outdoor Experience (OE) is an annual opportunity that many Upper School students select, but this year our usual community partners weren’t able to schedule groups. With that obstacle in mind, OE Director Nikki Dresser contacted Third Thought Initiatives for Civic Engagement for help reaching out to new organizations or to revive other partnerships that were interrupted by the Pandemic. 

Third Thought Initiatives for Civic Engagement was established with the financial support of a significant matching grant from the Edward E. Ford Foundation. Through a variety of youth-centered initiatives, Third Thought channels the energy and capacity of young people and supports their development as agents of change in a nation that suffers from divisions that paralyze our democratic processes.

As a result of the OE/Third Thought collaboration and outreach, Upper School students on local service trips were able to spend all four days outdoors using their brains, brawn, and teamwork skills to meet the needs of local organizations at multiple community locations. “Community service projects are an active element of civic engagement, and this was a great way to raise the profile of Third Thought on campus and make a positive impact in the community,” said Third Thought Director John Holdridge. “I look forward to further collaboration with students, teachers, and community groups and to supporting Waynflete’s great tradition of community service that was partially interrupted last year.”

More than 20 students in grades 9-12 and five advisors participated in the local service trips that took us from the Fore River Sanctuary with Portland Trails, the Western Prom with Portland Parks, the Eastern Prom and Payson Park with Portland Parks Conservancy, and Fort Williams with the Friends of Fort Williams. Each day began with our community partner leading a short educational talk about the location, the invasives, and the task at hand. Then—with little prompting—our crew got to work removing either garbage on the Western Prom or invasive plants at all the other locations including phragmites, swallow wort, knotweed, bittersweet, and honeysuckle. 

 Portland Parks Conservancy Volunteer Coordinator Kate Shambaugh had this to say to the group: “Thank you so much for reaching out and helping make this partnership happen! You gathered about 3,500 gallons of invasive plant matter today between the two parks, and that is no small feat. You have an awesome group of students there and I wish you all the best moving forward with them.”

And move forward we will!

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