League of Extraordinary Youth Battle R.I. Invasives

The Rhode Island Youth Conservation League employs teenagers to work at the state’s collection of preserved space, such as the Emilie Ruecker Wildlife Refuge in Tiverton. (Frank Carini/ecoRI News photos)

Eco RI News:

For five weeks this summer, six high-school students and a college sophomore will tear, chop, cut and pull oriental bittersweet, black swallow-wort, privet and a host of other invasive plant species from conserved lands across the state.

The Rhode Island Youth Conservation League was created seven years ago by the Rhode Island Natural History Survey, the Audubon Society of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island chapter of The Nature Conservancy. It was formed as a follow-up to the Natural History Survey’s 2010 Forest Health Works Project summer youth crew.

On a late-July day ecoRI News caught up with the six teenagers — Keishla Santiago-Garcia, Edward Moniz, Courtney Naughton, Deanna Phan, Grace Rumowicz and Anna Stansfield. The high-school sophomores and juniors from North Kingstown, Central Falls and The Greene School were at the Emilie Ruecker Wildlife Refuge on Seapowet Avenue. Wearing matching yellow T-shirts, the students, led by Audubon Society conservation assistant Kyle Hess and University of Rhode Island sophomore Brittany Amaral, were clearing trails of fast-encroaching oriental bittersweet and in-the-way tree branches. They also spent a considerable amount of time avoiding poison ivy.

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