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My cousins, Mike and Liliana brought my brother Michael and I to walk through mountains, hence the name, in a place called Olivera De Azemeis. I will tell you all something. IT WAS INCREDIBLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wild pine trees and eucalyptus trees towered above us while wild flowers and ferns littered the forest floor. Among this revolution of oxygen-producing machines were snakes, lizards, frogs and insects. In this area, jabalies (wild pigs) were once common. We did not spot one. A sure sign of human intervention - A.K.A. they were over hunted. We walked for about three hours until we reached the very peak of the mountain. It was breath-taking. I have pictures but will download them when I return to America.
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On July 11, three members of our group helped the Girdwood Forest Service pull invasive weeds in the Portage area. Weeds like Nettles and White Clover are spreading rapidly and threaten the local wildflowers. We worked for two hours.
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One family in our group is working with the Anchorage Bird Learning and Treatment Center to rescue Baby Birds. The family took a halfday class at the BLT in spring. They learned how to care for different kind of birds at different stages of development. After getting a license to care for birds in need, they were added to the BLT contact list. BLT mostly needs people to care for baby birds that fell out of their nests but they also need experienced caretakers for injured birds. In June the family adopted 2 Redpoll chicks and later on one Blackcapped Chickadee. The Redpolls needed feeding every 15 minutes for the first few days. The Chickadee, being a brancher, needed feeding every 30 to 45 minutes. The family raised the birds for approximately 3 weeks at which point the birds were able to self feed and fly. They were then released into the wild. It was a very fun and rewarding experience but also very time consuming. The birds had to be taken along wherever the family went - shopping, baseball games etc.
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The Dakota Skippers meet two days a week for eight weeks throughout the summer vacation. We average between 12 to 20 children per meeting ranging in ages of 6 to 13. The Skippers are in charge of cleaning the children's zoo at Bramble Park Zoo. This task assists the zookeepers and teaches students the responsibilities in caring for animals. Goats, donkeys, chickens, owls, corn snakes, mice and rabbits are cared for by attending to their daily needs. When time allows, the rabbits and donkeys are brushed down and haltered so they can be walked around. We meet for two hours. After cleaning the children's zoo, we do projects in other areas. We have had animal handling classes and have pressed flowers from the native gardens and made bookmarks.
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Today was our first day of the beautification process. We spent 4 hours pulling out weeds, and the next time we will be overturning the soil and planting flowers. Our main goal for today was to pull out all of the weeds, as the garden was previously a mess. We worked with two elderly women on this project. We learned that pulling weeds is a long process, but is relaxing and rewarding in the end. We came up with this project idea by discussing what we could to do to beautify the main park in Monroe. This project was inspiring because we found out that a little bit of work can make something look much better, and we also received many compliments.
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The goals are to add more prairie to the nature preserve, teach students about prairie pant ID and planting procedures and complete a seed germination experiment. We collected seeds from plants in the fall, then cleaned and refrigerated them. We planted 15 different species into flats in our greenhouse and grew 50 per flat until they were ready for transplanting. Eventually we planted 148 new prairie plants into tilled areas at the Nature Preserve. Species planted included Indian grass, lead plant, big bluestem, rattlesnake master, purple coneflower, side oats grama, thimbleweed, grey headed coneflower, bergamot, butterfly weed, prairie dropseed and compass plant.
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Students walked both sides of our two mile stretch of Hwy. 120 to collect bags of trash from the roadsides. We watched a 10 minute safety training film, dressed appropriately, and loaded a total of 18 large garbage bags. Students learn about our wasteful packaging, recycling possibilities, and how prevalent our litter problem is. This also keeps the environment cleaner for local animals.
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Students stenciled/painted the label "DUMP NO WASTE - DRAINS TO STREAM" on 50 of the City's storm drains. This helps to educate residents that these drains lead directly to the lake or river and could pollute our water. Students are given a map of the drains to paint, should wear orange safety vests, use the stencil provided and then clean and neatly paint white the cement immediately next to the storm drains.
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Working with the Earth Foundation of the Nature Conservancy, we sold 80 of their t-shirts to raise $560. This will be used to purchase approximately 8 acres of forest land in East-central Africa.
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Our group participated again in the Garden in Transit project in NYC. This project is to raise awareness and hope for our environment, people and animals. It is a nationwide campaign called Portraits of Hope and every year they pick a different city and state. Our group painted giant flowers and in September these flowers will be placed on top of all the yellow taxi cabs in the city. It was very exciting to participate in such an event. The last open session for this project will be July 21, 2007 from 10 am to 10 pm in the Pennsylvania Hotel. The website is Garden in Transit. Org. This is one of the largest art projects in NYC history.

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