From October 17 through October 29, the Burien Parks, Recreation & Cultural Services department, King Conservation District, and Partner in Employment hosted an afterschool program at Hilltop Park. This program, funded by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, paid 12 students to learn about environmental restoration and become empowered to care for their local park for two weeks after school.
Six middle school students from Glacier Middle School were picked up from school each day and driven to the park. Six high school students met the middle schoolers at the park to assist in leading and mentoring the middle schoolers. Middle school students were paid $100 for their participation and high school leads were paid $800 for their participation and leadership.
Each day began with a snack, donated most days from the Spice Bridge Food Incubator in Tukwila. After a snack and time to decompress from the school day, students played a game or did an activity. Activities included creating nature-inspired art, designing their ideal version of Hilltop Park, and playing a plant scavenger hunt.
After the daily activity, students learned about an environmental restoration topic – either how to identify and remove a particular weed, or how to plant native plants using various methods. The day before Green Burien Day, afterschool program students worked with EarthCorps and Partner in Employment crews to stage 240 native plants.
In reflecting on the program, students said their favorite part was either creating nature art, learning how to plant, or removing giant blackberry roots! In addition to their pay, students were excited to take home their own shovel, clippers, and gloves. All of the students said they would participate again if the program was offered next year.