Combine Earth Day, a green-minded company and 65 high school students and the result is clean trails and a happy park ranger.
John Heenan, senior park ranger at Mt. Madonna and Uvas county parks, said he couldn’t have been more pleased with the Live Oak High School seniors – and a crew from Timberland, too.
“The students did a fantastic job,” said Heenan. “And the ones at Mt. Madonna did an unbelievable job. I can’t believe how hard they worked.”
The work crew was mostly from Live Oak High civics classes taught by Diana Rocha and Raul Torrez. The two teachers were the only ones who responded to a call for help from Timberland, the maker of rugged outdoor shoes and clothing, with a store in the Gilroy Outlets.
“Timberland has been absolutely wonderful,” Ro-cha said. “In past years we have worked at Henry Coe Park also clearing trails but Timberland is the catalyst.”
Rocha said the student involvement is the result of a senior service program.
“The students needed outside points and this is a good way for them to become aware of the community,” she said.
Senior civics students also earn points by attending City Council, Planning Commission meetings or sitting in on court sessions. They can also help with political campaigns or do community service.
Timberland encourages its employees to make a difference in their communities, especially around Earth Day and store employees took up the challenge.
Debbie Dolph, store and operations manager, said they wanted to offer local students the chance to take part, too.
“Timberland has done this forever,” Dolph said. “We believe in keeping the environment in good shape. Angelina Varela (another employee) put out the call to local high schools but only Live Oak responded. We were just thrilled that 50 to 70 kids signed up to work.”
The students were sponsored by Timberland and the Santa Clara County Parks Department. Ranger Heenan said the 25 students who worked at Mt. Madonna loaded up 20 truck loads of old trees and dead limbs from the Henry Miller estate ruin site. They cleared trails and walkways exposing an 18-station nature walk and put up a new map box and display board.
“When you consider the five and a half hours each of those 65 kids put in,” Heenan said, “the savings were tremendous.”
Student Sima Bhalala was part of the work crew at the Miller ruins. “There is this old house – and we helped clean up around it.”
The Henry Miller ruins include a summer home foundations for the Miller summer home and two bungalows that Miller built for his daughter, Nellie, and son, Henry Jr.
The seniors who came to earn points for their civics classes and left with an appreciation of clean parks.
Varela worked with the students at Uvas and Calero reservoirs, picking up trash.
“It went pretty well,” Varela said. “A lot of the students were surprised at the junk.
You could tell people parked their cars and hang out – there are lots of food wrappers, tires, alcohol containers and lots of clothing.”
She said the students had a good time wondering how the clothing came to be left.
“Hmmm, I wonder what happened here,” she said they asked.
Students Kaitlin McHargue and Kristina Elmasu worked with Varela at Chesbro and Uvas reservoirs.
Elmasu said she worked hard, along with everyone else.
“I helped pick up dead wood, swept up and walked around the reservoir picking up trash,” Elmasu said.
The day’s work wasn’t without a lesson, either.
“We picked up garbage around the water and found a lot of fishing line,” McHargue said.
She said they were told that fish and birds can choke on line left lying around. All three girls admitted learning about the effects of littering.
“I’ll be more careful in the future,” McHargue said.
“It was nice to take part and clean up the park,” Elmasu said.
Varela said she doesn’t know yet what Timberland employees will do for 2006 but they are interested in the county parks department’s “Adopt a Trail” program.
“We’re hoping to adopt a trail up at Mt. Madonna or Uvas and do something on our own,” Varela said. “Or maybe some other park.”
Carol Holzgrafe covers City Hall for The Times. She can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or phoning (408) 779-4106 Ext. 201.