Hayden Austin Bush and Kayla Dunckley were two of the first students on the scene Tuesday at the Haven Assisted Living Center, raking dirt to prepare it for landscaping.
Hayden Middle School eighth-graders lent a hand for Global Youth Service Day, organized by school-based mentors for Partners in Routt County. About 45 students converged at the Haven to plant, seed and prepare a garden.
We're "just helping out the community a little bit because they help us," said Kayla, 14.
She and Austin, also 14, said they help with gardening at home. And, they agreed, working outside is better than being in class.
Mentors Jess Schnittka and Susie Huser organized the service day. Schnittka handled the team at the Haven. Huser led the rest of the middle school students, who worked at Dry Creek Park and Hayden Town Park. All 95 students at the school participated, Schnittka said.
Tim Redmond, a town trustee and volunteer, spoke to the students about making a difference in the community. The hardest workers would win awards, Schnittka said, and they planned to end the day with a flag ceremony.
The students are part of something bigger than their community, she said.
"There's over 2,000 other service projects going on around the world," Schnittka said.
The youths had help, however. T.J. Thrasher, general manager of construction at Windemere Landscape and Garden Center, provided landscaping guidance. The Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association coordinated with the mentors, and Hayden's Garden Club, master gardeners and master gardening students led the middle schoolers.
Before the youths arrived, the gardeners planted columbine, scotch moss and red currant plants.
"We decided to open it up and just make it a nice day to come with the community and master gardening students," said Donna Hackley, coordinator of the VNA's Aging Well program.