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140 Emerson Students Volunteer to Improve Ann Arbor Trails

Emerson School Community Service Squad Volunteering
School-Wide Community Service Days Teach the Importance of Volunteering

On Friday, November 2, 2012, nearly 140 Emerson School students, dressed in bright orange Community Service Squad shirts, were volunteering to improve Ann Arbor’s Barton Nature Area (BNA) trails. Guided by Natural Area Preservation leaders, students used plastic snow sleds, wheelbarrows, garbage bags, shovels, pitchforks and rakes to spread truckloads of wood chips along trails throughout BNA. They also removed debris and hand trimmed branches and foliage encroaching on the trails. It was hard but rewarding work, and the experience is helping to create a future of engaged youth who take responsibility for their community.

Transporting wood chips along trails“Community service projects like this teach our children about the vital role volunteers play in our society,” said Jerry Loewen, head of school at Emerson School. “Middle School is an impressionable time for kids. These experiences really resonate with students and many will become lifelong volunteers as a result.”

For the past three years, Emerson School has made community service a core component of its Middle School experience. Students annually participate in three different Community Service Days, including two off-site excursions and one on school grounds. Most projects partner with local organizations meeting a need that might go unfulfilled without the efforts of citizens with a personal connection.

“Students are realizing their power to impact the world they live in,” said Andy Zimmer, Emerson School social studies teacher and volunteer coordinator. “Each one has the ability to make our community safer, cleaner and healthier, and Community Service Days give them a start.”

The next Community Service Day will take place at Emerson School in February. Students will learn about caring for and taking ownership of their immediate community—their school—by collecting trash, clearing and cleaning recyclables, cleaning fish tanks, washing whiteboards and chalkboards, cleaning computer labs, organizing books in the library and more.


See more photos on Emerson’s Facebook page at