On Saturday, August 25, about 40 University of Georgia students volunteered at Stroud Elementary School for Dawg Day of Service, an event giving students opportunities to volunteer at locations all throughout Athens.

The students helped with trail maintenance, trash pickup, weeding, and cleaning up the trail’s boardwalk and bridge. Some students also worked to remove invasive species such as privet and kudzu from the forest surrounding the trail.

A student volunteer helps weed the pollinator garden at Stroud Elementary School in Athens.

The trail and small, unnamed creek at Stroud are one of Watershed UGA’s biggest projects this year, according to Liz French, Watershed UGA Coordinator.

The stream flows into Trail Creek, making it part of the general goal to restore the Trail Creek watershed. Trail Creek includes East Fork Trail Creek and West Fork Trail Creek and enters the North Oconee River as it flows through downtown Athens. The creek is listed as an impaired stream on the Clean Water Act list of impaired streams.

It all goes hand in hand,” French said. “Stroud is the example we’re using as a model for environmental education and getting the information out in the community. We can do really cool projects and hopefully clean it up.”

UGA students help clear the trail at Stroud of vines and invasive species.

Watershed UGA has been partnering with Stroud since fall 2016, French said. French works with a class of fourth and fifth grade students called the Problem Solving Team, conducting Watershed lessons and identifying a problem to work on in the community. Last year, the students chose a pollinator garden for their project and created a space to plant native species to attract pollinators like bees and butterflies.

By weeding the pollinator garden and cleaning up the trail, the UGA student volunteers helped clear the space so teachers can take students out for lessons on the trail or in the garden without having to worry about debris or trash getting in the way.

Watershed UGA will be hosting another day of service at Stroud for Athens MLK Day of service in January.

Written by: Jordan Meaker