Earth Day Service Project 2019

On April 22, 1970, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day. And on April 27, 2019, eight dedicated environmentalists from Arapahoe Community College—some seeking Service Learning credit—joined Denver Audubon’s Master Birders, Naturalists, and other volunteers to learn more about various species sharing our planet.

ACC’s Earth Day Service Project began at 7:30 a.m. when Cristina Duke (an ACC student from Joan Anderssen’s ECON class) arrived with her young daughter Kaelyn, then Juliet Hubbell (ACC’s Humanities faculty member) joined us with her daughter Rachelle. Dylan Goodman (from Diana Hornick’s online Interpersonal Communication class) and Lisa Asbill (from Karen Browning’s online Interpersonal Communication class) also attended early that Saturday to help pull weeds, cut back some Rabbitbrush, and rake leaves and branches from the Garden Circle just past the entrance to Denver Audubon’s Nature Center, south of Chatfield State Park in Littleton.

Left to right: Dylan Goodman, Audubon Master Birder Mary Keithler, Trina Wilson, Rachelle Hubbell, Juliet Hubbell, Lisa Asbill, Diana Hornick

At 9 a.m. Trina Wilson (an ACC student from one of our science classes taught by Celia Norman) met up with Team ACC to begin the Denver Metro Nature Challenge BioBlitz. What’s a BioBlitz? It’s an event that brings together natural resource experts, community volunteers, and members of the public to inventory all species in a specific area over a specific time period.

A lone grasshopper rests in dried and fallen Cottonwood leaves. (Photo courtesy of Trina Wilson)

Pycnoporellus, a genus of fungi, grows on the trunk of a tree near Audubon’s Nature Center. (Photo courtesy of Trina Wilson)

Poison Ivy berries can contain oxalates, needle-like crystals that cause pain and swelling in the lips, face, tongue, and skin. (Photo courtesy of Trina Wilson)

Vertebrae of a mammal found during our BioBlitz hike. (Photo courtesy of Trina Wilson)

Our Naturalist guide, Dave Erickson, alongside Master Birder Mary Keithler, pointed out native plants and called our attention to many birds, including a flock of six American White Pelicans soaring overhead and some Hummingbirds whirring by us at ground level. We hiked the trails adjacent to the beaver ponds, majestic Cottonwoods, and Audubon’s ever-popular springtime bird banding station.

Audubon Master Naturalist Dave Erickson (in the middle with hat) talks about Rabbitbrush and various other native plants at Denver Audubon’s Nature Center in Littleton. Note the ACC backpacks that were filled with goodies and provided to all volunteers, complements of ACC’s Student Life Office.

Between 9 and 11 a.m., and after the morning turned from cloudy to partly sunny, Team ACC helped create a snapshot of 50 different local species of plants, mammals, birds, insects, and fungi, better understanding our beautiful natural world.

Red-Winged Blackbird perched and observing BioBlitz participants. (Photo courtesy of Trina Wilson)

Wild Plum blooms in late April on nature trails at Audubon. (Photo courtesy of Trina Wilson)

Since 1970, National Earth Day has not been considered a national “holiday.” But if we want to continue breathing fresh air, drinking clean water, observing mammals, enjoying bird songs, and appreciating every plant we see and smell and eat, then Earth Day needs to become a national holiday in order to bring even more awareness to all of the species we share this planet with. Join us right now by signing the petition….and see you next April to celebrate our wondrous planet!

by Diana Hornick, ACC Communication Department Faculty
 & Service Learning Center Coordinator

A Day of Service at Audubon’s Nature Center

It was a hot day. Yes, it was sunny and clear and dry, so it was a “nice” day to do some gardening outdoors with the Audubon Society of Greater Denver near Chatfield State Park here in Littleton. But it was hot.

The Service Learning Center, along with ACC’s ViTaL (Volunteering To Learn) Team, helped get faculty involved with this year’s “Day of Service” on Saturday, April 14, 2017, sponsored by Student Life. We ended up with seven able-bodied volunteers around 1 p.m. to help dig out mint, grasses, and rabbit brush from a bird garden area at the entrance to Audubon’s Nature Center very near the parking lot, and very near the unrelenting construction taking place at the main road. But the noisy trucks did not deter us from helping beautify this community area for Audubon, whose motto is “Connecting people with nature through conservation, education, and research.”

 

Steven and Ashley -student volunteers

Steven and Ashley (our two student volunteers) dug right in (pun intended!) to help Audubon for 3 hours on Saturday in the heat and sun, with plenty of birds chirping in the background.

Rebecca from Veterans Services removes invasive grasses along the perimeter of the bird garden.

Whitney from Student Life helps Ashley in the bird garden with bird-catching nets in the background. The nets are used during bird banding days in April and March each year, teaching the public about some of Colorado’s feathered friends.

Register for a bird banding event here.

Rebecca from Veterans Services removes invasive grasses along the perimeter of the bird garden.

Rebecca from Veterans Services removes invasive grasses along the perimeter of the bird garden.

Our ACC student teaches Sarah (also from Student Life) and Whitney, along with Rebecca, how to dig a proper hole.

Our ACC student teaches Sarah (also from Student Life) and Whitney, along with Rebecca, how to dig a proper hole.

Jennifer

Jennifer (a teacher in our Psychology Department) battled (and won!) her fight to clip off and dig out rabbit brush roots in this dry, yet quite rocky, soil.

birds in tree

And…we actually saw a few birds at Audubon. These two Red-winged Blackbirds coached all of us volunteers that day from the newly blooming trees above.

The Service Learning Center, Student Life, and the ViTaL Team look forward to future volunteering events at Audubon! Learn more about Audubon in our area.

by Diana Hornick, Service Learning Center Coordinator

ACC’s ViTaL Team and Community help students at Sheridan High School

Beginning in December 2016, the ACC community donated hundreds of school supplies, peanut butters, toothpastes, and toothbrushes towards a donation drive for underprivileged students at Sheridan High School. During the Spring 2017 semester in a Service Learning session at the All-Instruction Meeting, faculty and staff distributed these donations into 45 backpacks. Adding to that count, 18 extra backpacks were filled with even more donations one night in January with several moms and their young kids from Colorado Academy. The delivered backpacks to Sheridan High School helped ACC enrich its partnership with this concurrent enrollment school that has 85% of their students in poverty. Thanks again to everyone at ACC for your time and donations for these local kids in need and potential ACC students!

Diana Hornick and Josie Mills with filled backpacks

ViTaL Team members (Diana Hornick and Josie Mills) getting ready to deliver backpacks to Sheridan High School.

 

ACC’s ViTaL Team Trip to Audubon Society at Chatfield

On August 19, 2016, ACC’s ViTaL (Volunteering To Learn) Team set out on an outdoor adventure to help clean up over-grown weeds and dried-up grasses from the Audubon Society of Greater Denver’s Nature Center at Chatfield State Park, about 10 miles away.

Led by Audubon’s Community Outreach Coordinator Kate Hogan, the six ACC faculty and staff–with some of their family members–first learned about the Audubon Society’s mission and its relationship to Chatfield, then performed a couple of hours of light gardening tasks on a warm and sunny Saturday morning.

Audubon Center at Chatfield State Park

Audubon Center at Chatfield State Park has an abundance of wildlife and over 300 bird species that live or visit at various times a year.

Ken Murphy & Dan Hohn removing tree

Math Professor Ken Murphy & Dan Hohn from Fiscal Services remove a dead tree from the gardens.

Diana Hornick landscaping

Communication Faculty & ViTaL leader Diana Hornick at work.

Mardi Mathers landscaping

Nursing Faculty member Mardi Mathers.

Garden Walk at Chatfield State Park.

Garden Walk at Chatfield State Park.

The Team completed their project with a nature hike, discovering toads, snakes, and a beaver lodge.

Kate Hogan pointing out Beaver Lodge

Audubon’s Community Outreach Coordinator Kate Hogan points out a beaver lodge.

Platte River

The Platte River

A nature walk along one of Chatfield's many trails

A nature walk along one of Chatfield’s many trails

Audubon Nature Center Map

Some of the plant life at Chatfield State Park…

Poison Ivy

Poison ivy is distinguishable by its red leaves

Hemlock

Hemlock is the poisonous plant presumed to have killed Socrates.

Plants along the Platte River

Plants along the Platte River

Come join ViTaL team for our next outing!

Volunteers pictured from left to right: Mardi Mathers, Jennifer Jones, Ken Murphy, Daniel Hohn, Diana Hornick, Josie Mills, Andrea Mason, Linda Mason

Volunteers pictured from left to right: Mardi Mathers, Jennifer Jones, Ken Murphy, Daniel Hohn, Diana Hornick, Josie Mills, Andrea Mason, Linda Mason