School representatives Dan Tangney accepted the award from BLM director Bob Abbey.
"The opportunities we have pursued with the BLM in the Headwaters Forest have given our students hands on experience in top notch field science as well as very industrious service learning opportunities,” Tangney said. “The south entrance to the forest reserve has become our access to an incredible educational opportunity in one of the world’s most abundant and majestic ecosystems.”
In the spring of 2011, 20 East High School student volunteers constructed a replica of a historic, late-1800s “sand shack” next to the Headwaters Education Center, which is a restored locomotive barn.
Using as much original lumber as possible, the students built components at their school wood shop, and then assembled the building on site with the help of BLM staff. The original shack was used to dry sand needed to increase traction for the locomotives that hauled logs to a nearby lumber mill; it is now an interpretive exhibit.
During winter, students helped plant native vegetation in areas along the Elk River Trail and around the education center in conjunction with the installation of new interpretive exhibits.
Student volunteers also initiated a project to monitor amphibians as bio-indicators of redwood forest health. The students were involved in every facet of the project, working closely with BLM specialists. Honored along with East High School were volunteers from New Mexico, Alaska, Arizona, southern California, Montana, Nevada and Utah. A panel of BLM specialists worked through a record number of nominations to select winners for their exceptional contributions to conservation and public land management.
Volunteer work is important in the conservation of public lands, the BLM noted. In fiscal year 2011 alone, more than 30,000 volunteers contributed over 1.2 million hours of their time assisting the BLM. That’s equivalent to the work of more than 690 full time employees.