EL CERRITO -- A team of volunteers from the Dads Club at Prospect Sierra School spent their Saturday removing ivy that had encircled and endangered trees at Canyon Trail Park. The 14 volunteers "moved about five cubic yards of Algerian ivy and invasive pittosporum" during the work party held under the guidance of Stephen Pree, environmental programs manager and arborist for the city.
"Once the ivy gets up into the trees it covers over the leaves, reducing the tree's ability to photosynthesize and reducing its ability to thrive," Pree said. "Some trees in the park have died due to being covered with ivy."
The work party is an outgrowth of a program and curriculum developed by Prospect Sierra kindergarten teacher Madeleine Rogin that includes using the park and Baxter Creek as an outdoor classroom and teaching students environmental stewardship. That program earned a $10,000 grant as the winning entry in a national online competition last spring.
The school's involvement at the park, which is across from its kindergarten to fourth grade campus, led to conversations between the Prospect Sierra Dads Club President Andy van Amson and Prees, which in turn led to the work party that accomplished what the city couldn't on its own due to limited resources.
"This project gave us the opportunity to give back to our city and act as examples for our students," noted Prospect Sierra parent Steve Crawford.
School parent and Dads Club officer Paul Wyckoff helped organize the effort and food for the volunteers was donated by Pasta Pomodoro.
The city provided tools, trucks and guidance for the volunteer labor.
"This park needs a lot of volunteer work and stewardship, due to budget constraints" that prevent the city from doing more on its own, Pree said.
The city welcomes such volunteer efforts emphasizes that volunteers need to register with the city before planning an event or working in the parks to ensure that the right needs are addressed and procedures are followed.
Anyone interested in organizing a volunteer project can contact Pree at 510-215-4350 or firstname.lastname@example.org.