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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Stuart HS community launches project to clean up Stuart Park

J.E.B Stuart High School teacher Lauren Kinne, along with students and volunteers, will be spending three mornings during the next few weeks cleaning up Stuart Park, and the public is invited to join them.

The first activity of the J.E.B. Stuart Park Rejuvenation Project takes places Saturday, Sept. 29, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Stuart students in the National Science Honor Society, Raiders for the Planet, and Ingenium will be at the park taking out invasive species to make room for native plants.

“We are hoping to involve all levels of the Stuart pyramid from elementary school to middle school to high school, as well as community stakeholders, in order to promote environmental stewardship,” says Kinne, a biology teacher currently on maternity leave.

The next cleanup will be Saturday, Oct. 13, with Stuart High School mentors and students and parents from Bailey’s Elementary School and Glasgow Middle School. Students and volunteers from all three schools plus the Bailey’s Crossroads Rotary Club will participate in the third and final clean up on Saturday, Oct. 27.

Kinne says the volunteers will hand-pull as many invasive species as possible from an area in Stuart Park next to Peace Valley Lane. Trash bags, a wheelbarrow, and Tecnu (in case anyone gets exposed to poison ivy), will be available. Volunteers are encouraged to bring their own work gloves and clippers.

The project is supported by a grant U.S. Forest Service. It is also supported by the Bailey’s Crossroads Rotary Club, Fairfax County Park Authority, and Stuart High School.

Stuart Park is adjacent to the high school and several sports teams, including the tennis and softball teams, use the facilities at the park, although it is owned by the Park Authority.

The forested area of park used to contain a cross country route, as well as paths to a stream where students conducted scientific inquiry labs on water quality, Kinne notes. Over the years, invasive species overtook the parkland, and eventually it became so overgrown, students no longer had access to the stream.

Kinne’s short-term goals include the removal of invasive species, particularly English ivy, porcelain berry, and knotweed, and the gradual planting of native species. The long-term goal is to create an outdoor educational space to support learning about the environment for students and community members.

Kinne believes the increasing deterioration of the environment means it’s more crucial than ever to educate youths to be ecologically literate, connected to nature, and dedicated to making environmentally conscious decisions.

“This project will span many, many years, as the park is extremely overgrown and very large,” she says. “However, the end goal of a parkland full of native species for community members and students to enjoy is well worth the effort.”


  1. Good Job you!!!!

  2. Wow, this is a great story and inspiring not only for the students but for all of us who want to save our environment. Go students, volunteers, and teacher Linne!

  3. Tough job ahead for everyone. The forest has been completely overrun by invasive vines that are choking the trees. As a neighbor (and also a volunteer), I'm hopeful we can still save the forest, but we need lots of hands! Come help if you can.