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Students mold habitat

Herman Stroup from Stroup Lawn Care helps Lincolnton Charter School students (left to right) Dereck Sherrill and Nathan Berryhill fill a trail with gravel. The new trail leads from the Charter School to a wetland habitat.
Jenny Walling / Lincoln Times-News

Lincolnton Charter School students Wednesday picked up shovels and performed hard labor, all in the name of science.
The students created a gravel trail that led from the school to their new wetland habitat.
“I have blisters,” said Delania Frye, a student who had been shoveling gravel for hours.
Delania expected the new wetland habitat to be a beautiful site. Instead, she found a work in progress.
“It looks like a big mud hole,” she said.
The big mud hole was created with the help of a $1,000 grant from the N.C. Foundation for Soil and Water Conservation Districts in cooperation with the Caterpillar Foundation.
The new “outdoor environmental learning center” should provide science students with a close-up look at wetlands.
After it rains, the land between the wetlands and the school becomes quite muddy, which is why students needed to create a path.
“It didn’t have to be perfect,” said Daniel Velverde. “It’s just a little walkway leading to the wetlands.”
Approximately five inches of snow was predicted to fall the day of the project. Instead, the weather was cold, but sunny.
“It all worked out,” said Rick McSwain, a natural resource conservationist. “It turned out to be a pretty day.”
McSwain and Patti Dellinger, who both work for the Soil and Water Conservation District, provided students with information while they worked.
A tractor dug out the initial trail in the soil, but students had to level it out, place cloth on it and then cover it with gravel.
Much of the supplies were donated. Those that were not were paid for with the grant.
After working for several hours, students would grow tired.
“There’s been some that joked around,” said Dellinger.
Several of the boys had a competition to see who could fill up and deliver wheelbarrows of gravel the fastest.
“If they were getting paid for this, they definitely would have earned their keep,” said Dellinger.
Even though the trail has been completed, the students have a lot more work to do before the project is finished.
McSwain sees birdhouses and a butterfly garden in the wetland’s future. Of course, the maple and river birch trees they planted last November will have to grow first.
Dellinger is just glad to be continuing work on the habitat. Dr. Margaret Venable, a former science teacher at the school, started the project, but has since taken another job. She still works occasionally at the school as a science advisor.
“We want to keep the grant going,” said Dellinger. “They had one year to get it done, and they got a little behind.”
The Honors Chemistry and Physical Science students who constructed the trail didn’t seem to mind all the hard work. “They like working outdoors instead of staying in the room,” said their science teacher Myra Tranquilino. by Sarah Grano

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