Local Teens Help Restore Habitat in the Sourlands

When their stewardship work is done, FaithJustice volunteers cool off studying stream ecology. (Photo by Laurie Cleveland)

The Center for FaithJustice in Lawrence, NJ sent sixty hardworking teenage and adult volunteers to help the Sourland Conservancy remove invasive plants and shrubs this summer in three Sourland region preserves: Hopewell Borough Park, Cedar Ridge Preserve, and St. Michaels Preserve.

“This is an introduction to stewardship work for most of these young people. They worked very hard and learned a lot about the role of native plants and the threat of invasives in the fragile Sourland ecosystem,” said Chris Berry, Sourland Conservancy Trustee.

Thunderstorms in the forecast didn’t dampen the spirits of these enthusiastic ServiceworX volunteers! They sought shelter at the Hopewell Train Station, assembled a member mailer and made native seed balls to plant on local preserves. (Photo by Laurie Cleveland)

This is the third year that the Sourland Conservancy is partnering with The Center for FaithJustice to help maintain trails and restore balance to the ecosystem in Sourland region parks and preserves. With guidance from Sourland Conservancy leaders, Laurie Cleveland and Chris Berry, ServiceworX volunteers learned to identify the targeted invasive plants and shrubs, then cut or pull them to allow native species to thrive. This summer’s crew targeted Japanese honeysuckle shrubs and vines, multiflora rose, autumn olive and barberry.

The mission of the Center for FaithJustice is to inspire the next generation of leaders by creating programs to serve those in need and educate for justice in the Catholic tradition. Through their ServiceworX program, they design and run week-long, service immersion day programs at the participating parish or school with outreach to local social service agencies and non-profit organizations including the Sourland Conservancy, The ARC Mercer, Homefront and Enable, Inc. This year’s Sourland Conservancy volunteers are confirmation candidates from St. Charles Borromeo in Skillman and St. Augustine of Canterbury in Kendall Park.

For more information about the threat of invasive plants to native animals, birds, amphibians and insects – and how you can help restore our local ecosystem with choices you make in your own backyard, visit www.sourland.org/stewardship.

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