Student service projects will help showcase Pikes Peak State Park

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Hope Guyer (left) and Brenna Boland were two of the over 60 MFL MarMac high school students who performed projects at Pikes Peak State Park on May 23. (Submitted photos)

Juniors Derek Larson (left) and Gavyn Wade paint one of the 73 fire rings at Pikes Peak.

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

While Pikes Peak State Park’s stunning panoramas of the Mississippi River often make  a visit to the park memorable, it’s the little things that also leave an impact: sitting around a crackling campfire, sharing lunch with your family at a picnic table, watching kids explore the playground.

This year, all of those experiences will be enhanced thanks to over 60 MFL MarMac sophomores and juniors, who performed spruce-up projects at Pikes Peak on May 23.

The students split up into eight crews, accomplishing a multitude of tasks, said teacher Dan Anderson, who led the group with the help of Brandi Crozier.

Tasks completed by the students included:

• Cleaning the sand and gravel off picnic areas and roads with a push broom

• Wiping down and painting picnic tables

• Painting flower boxes

• Painting handicap parking symbols

• Scraping and then re-painting the yellow lines along the parking lot

• Staining the visitor center, bathrooms and benches

• Removing sticks and weeds from the playground areas

• Wire brushing and painting 73 fire rings

All of the work was completed in just two hours, Anderson noted.

“I was very impressed with how hard they all worked,” he remarked, “and everyone—park staff and campers included—couldn’t believe how much our students accomplished in a short amount of time.”

Pikes Peak State Park Manager Matt Tschirgi agreed.

“They were only up here a couple hours, but it would have taken us all summer to accomplish that,” he said, referring to himself and campground host Stephen Lewis.

Pikes Peak often benefits from volunteer help, Tschirgi said. For example, the Peppy Pals/Mendon Hustlers 4-H Club completes projects each spring, this year painting the boardwalk steps along with flower boxes.

This spring, said Tschirgi, one of the girls in the 4-H club asked him if he’d be interested in having one of the MFL MarMac classes help with other projects.

“I said, ‘Yeah, that would be awesome,’” he recalled.

Back at school, the students had already been throwing around the idea of a service project.

“I organized a community service project a few years ago, where my sophomores did a cleanup along Sny Magill trout stream, south of McGregor,” Anderson shared. “The kids enjoyed it and we got a lot accomplished along the stream. We filled a flatbed trailer with junk that people had dumped along the road in Sny Magill.”

About a month ago, said Anderson, he must have mentioned this to his first period biology students, when they were advocating for a field trip.

“After I told them this, several of them bugged me daily that we should do something like that,” he said. “So I contacted Matt Tschirgi at Pikes Peak to see if they needed any assistance.”

Although the venture was spur-of-the-moment, Tschirgi said there were a number of projects appropriate for those under 18.

“Painting and cleaning are perfect for that age group,” he said.

Those touches will just add to the overall experience at Pikes Peak.

“For people to come and see painted tables and benches, it just helps showcase the park,” Tschirgi said.

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