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Welch and Blackwell partner in effort to connect students and the Jefferson Memorial Forest

Friday April 17, 2009

For Immediate release:
Majority Caucus
Louisville Metro Council
Contact: Tony Hyatt 574-4137/526-3622

Students at Mercy Academy have a unique opportunity to learn more about one of the largest urban forest in the United States and at the same time help preserve the Jefferson Memorial Forest in all of its beauty.

It is part of a continuing partnership program created between Council members Vicki Aubrey Welch (D-13) and Rick Blackwell (D-12) and the staff of the Forest. Mercy will have about 90 student volunteers in the Forest on Monday, April 20th and Tuesday, April 21st to do service.

This partnership between the Mercy Academy and the Jefferson Memorial Forest began as part of Mercy Academy’s effort to perform community service in the area.

“These students will find out what we already know. The Jefferson Memorial Forest is not just a place for recreation but a learning experience that must be preserved and maintained for everyone,” says Welch.

Each year Mercy students focus on a different area of service. As freshmen, they look at improving their environment. This year 180 students will come to the Forest and work on invasive plant removal, helping expand the Forest's outdoor nature exploration labs. Planting wetland plants around Shannon's Pond students also help the Forest's main area used for aquatic ecosystem studies with school groups.

“Mercy has a great tradition of community service in the Metro Louisville area,” says Blackwell. “The Forest is an important part of this community and the challenge for students and everyone is to understand what role it plays in our environment.”

At the beginning of the week, 90 students will do community service work from 9:00am to 2:00pm. In addition, 61 students spend the night in the Forest on Monday.

"It is our hope this experience will deepen their appreciation for the nature and give greater meaning to the work they do in the community,” says Tonya Swan, Public Education Supervisor at the Forest..

"We are very pleased that Mercy Academy has chosen to perform community service at the Forest as their efforts will help us to improve the ecological condition of the Jefferson Memorial Forest,” says Carl Suk, Landscaping Supervisor.

Welch says while Mercy students will have an educational experience as they perform community service, the Forest can always use some volunteers.

“Many people may not know, the Forest has a volunteer program that I would encourage everyone to check out if you have some time and want to spend a few hours in a unique environment,” she says.

To learn more about the volunteer opportunities at the Jefferson Memorial Forest, go to http://www.louisvilleky.gov/metroparks/parks/jeffersonmemorialforest/ . The website will also provide information about programs and other events at the Forest.

Sponsors:
Rick Blackwell (D) 12
Vicki Aubrey Welch (D)13