Princeton Girl Scouts convened at the Mapleton Preserve/D&R Canal State Park for an early celebration of Earth Day. The day’s “Roots & Shoots” program was jointly developed by Friends of Princeton Nursery Lands, D&R Canal State Park staff, and the Princeton Girl Scout Service unit, with the assistance of the NJDEP Watershed Ambassadors.
The international ”Roots & Shoots” program is an environmental and humanitarian effort developed by famed primatologist Jane Goodall. Its goal is to engage youth to take action to improve our world– through service and learning projects that promote care and concern for animals, the environment and the human community. (www.rootsandshoots.org).
The girls rotated through three half-hour stations. To promote understanding of the animal community, Stephanie Fox, D&R Canal State Park Naturalist talked about local wildlife. Karen Linder, president of Friends of Princeton Nursery Lands, led a hike at Mapleton Preserve, with a focus on invasive species and their impact on the natural community. Vicki Chirco, D&R Canal State Park Historian focused her program on historic features of the property and on how Princeton Nurseries’ presence in Kingston affected the environment of the site.
Meanwhile, adults toured the property with FPNL Vice President Robert von Zumbusch, learning about the history of the Preserve and its acquisition.
Afterward, the Scouts participated in a variety of service projects, including cleaning up a butterfly garden, litter pickup, garlic mustard eradication and the clearing of ornamental trees from the shroud of invasive vines that took over many of the tree specimens at the park during the time that the nursery was abandoned. Meghan Keffer, from the New Jersey Watershed Ambassadors, an AmeriCorp program hosted by NJDEP, led a stream cleanup to show the Girl Scouts how to monitor water quality. All participants earned a Roots & Shoots participation patch.
Girl Scout troop 70185 served as the “Ambassador Troop” for the event – playing a key role in planning organization and logistics for the event.