This weekend, the Rasmussen Woods got the perfect perk-up for fall. On Saturday, Sept. 25th, nine students walked down to Rasmussen Woods to clean up the surrounding area. From 8:30 a.m to 12:30 p.m., students cut buckthorn tree saplings, an invasive species, to help clear the surrounding area.
The event was organized by Mavs in Action, a RSO based out of the Community Engagement Office. The event originated last year as a way for students to get hours amid the pandemic. Co-President Leah Peterson helped organize the event after the amount of success of the event last year.
“We did it for the first time last year because we wanted to do something environmentally friendly to help the area,” said Peterson. “Everyone who helped loved it so much that we did it a second time last year, so we wanted to do it again this year.”
In years past, the invasive species were destroyed through controlled burns to the area. However, due to COVID-19 and the drought, these events were postponed.
Buckthorn saplings are known for having roots that spread easily and shoot up other saplings in the area. One sapling can be connected to hundreds of others, making it difficult to kill the main source. Students cut tree saplings close to the trunk and then sprayed a herbicide that killed the roots.
The goal of the event was to help restore a part of the prairie that doesn’t need mowing, provide quality water and give wildlife better habitats and pollinator food sources.
One of the benefits of volunteering is helping give back to the community. For graduate student Katja Nielsen, the event was an opportunity to learn more about the surrounding area.
“I study cultural psychology and I really wanted to focus on not just the culture of mainstream America, but also indigenous people and the land that was here before,” said Nielsen. “I wanted to help give back to the land as it was before.”
Other students had motives for helping out at Rasmussen Woods.
“I had a class that I needed volunteer hours for and I also like to help out with community events,” said freshman Elena Drake. “This one worked out with my schedule on the weekends, so I signed up for it right away.”
“I wanted to meet new people and have the opportunity to have more connections and help out,” said junior Makayla Lewis. “I want to have that sense of feeling that I helped with the environment.”
By the end of the morning, Rasmussen Woods looked fresh and healthy, rid of several saplings that had accumulated. More importantly, new friendships were created while serving a good cause.
If students are interested in participating in future events similar to this one, they can reach out to the Community Engagement Office or create an account on INVOLVE U to register and sign up for other events.