United in the mission of the Society of Jesus, St. Joseph’s Prep’s Environmental Club has been living the Apostolic Preference of “Caring for our Common Home” on multiple Saturday mornings with their trash bags, seed packets, and garden gloves in hand. For the past three years, a small group of students has been cleaning, planting and beautifying parks and fields in our region--most especially Bowling Green Trails, a 70-acre park in Cherry Hill, NJ. Tasked with removing invasive plant species, Prep students--under the guidance of science teacher Mr. Ronan Kelly--are literally, rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty.
Armed with shovels, hoes and enthusiasm, the boys have spent their time removing wisteria and English ivy from native trees and mulched and prepared 900 sq. feet of nursery gardens. The long-term plan is to plant native species and gradually, over the course of the next decade, re-plant as much of the park as possible.
The Cherry Hill Environmental Board, Prep colleagues and families, and local residents have donated indigenous plants to the cause. Newly created shade gardens feature columbine, summersweet, wood aster, various ferns, pink turtlehead, and mountain laurel; and pollinator gardens are abundant with butterfly bush, milkweed, beebalm, black eyed susan, false indigo, echinacea, and zinnia.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, masked students and volunteers were able to work outdoors in a socially distanced manner. Today, students are able to see the fruits of their labors as many beds are in full bloom. By creating beautiful, clean, and prayerful spaces for reflection and enjoyment, Prep students are manifesting the Jesuit mission as they transform our ecosystem as dedicated stewards of our planet.
For more information on the Universal Apostolic Preferences, click here.
To donate plants or volunteer, contact Mr. Ronan Kelly, firstname.lastname@example.org