Little Heroes Planting Big Dreams: Kids Lead Forest Revival

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Along with all the cedars and ferns, one of our favorite things we grew this year was our relationship with Roxhill Elementary School students and teachers!

In 2023, Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association (DNDA) began doing forest restoration work at EC Hughes Playground Park in the Longfellow Creek Watershed. EC Hughes is an approximately 6-acre landscaped park containing a 1-acre Green Seattle Partnership natural area along the west border. Adding this site to our portfolio of ongoing projects allowed us to start partnering with nearby Roxhill Elementary, partnering with nearby Roxhill Elementary, which is located only blocks away.  

Three children are in a grassy field clearing out invasive plants from the ground.The relationship flourished during the 2023-24 school year, when we worked with 10 of the 12 classes at the school, facilitating walking field trips to participate in hands-on forest restoration activities and collaborative, nature-inspired artmaking led by DNDA’s Nature and Arts teams. 

This natural area is in the Longfellow Creek watershed and contributes to the health of this salmon-bearing stream. The urban forest at EC Hughes Park consists of aging, short-lived, mostly deciduous trees with a dense understory of weeds. Significant work is needed to restore this natural area, and community support will help maintain its health for years to come. Two children with shovels are on a hillside with a background of green trees. They are working on digging a hole, preparing for plants to be placed.

The EC Hughes project is an iteration and expansion of our existing environmental education programming, which works with hundreds of local public school students each year. This work allows students to have a more impactful role in restoring the natural area, learn about native and invasive plant species, and consider how to take these learnings to their campuses and homes

These events contribute to the Green Seattle Partnership’s goal of establishing healthy and stable urban forests across the city. DNDA is focused on finding age-appropriate activities that allow students of all ages to do restorative work that genuinely improves our shared natural environment. 

Two students are crouching in leafy ground cover with a shovel. They’re focused on digging a hole to plant new native species!

Art is a fundamental part of this project, which aims to create a rich and long-lasting learning experience for students.  Additionally, art offers avenues to understand the environmental science being presented and offers students a way to express their thoughts in the context of their different cultures and thought processes. We are thrilled about our progress this year and what the future holds!

-Written by Ben Antonius, Restoration Program Manager and Erin Kollar, Art Programs Manager