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Hastings High School Environmental Club Holding Workshop for Native Hillside Plants

Native Plants Workshop With spring in the air, a group of Hastings High School students is taking the opportunity to get elementary school students involved in conserving local wildlife.

The Environmental Club at Hastings High School is sponsoring a native plant workshop in April to spread awareness about plants that call the Hillside Woods home. The workshop, catered to Hillside Elementary School students, will be a free virtual learning experience for younger students to learn about their local plant life. Members of the Environmental Club, who have recently completed a workshop for Hillside students on endangered animals, wanted to bring things a little closer to home.

“You don't see rhinos every day, but you will see a sugar maple,” said Co-Vice President Roisin O’Flaherty. “I hope that when kids are walking through Hillside in the coming year, they can say ‘oh, I know that plant.’”

The workshop will show students how to identify native plants in Hillside Woods as well as give them the chance to see one up close and personal. Each participant will receive a plant native to Hillside Woods for a planting activity during the workshop. In the process, students will also learn about plants that are not native.

“There’s a gross amount of invasive plants in Hillside,” said O’Flaherty. “Different kinds of plants have different effects, they can cut off sunlight and moisture for all these other plants and they'll up take a lot of space, which will kill off native plants.”

Invasive species have been an issue at Hillside Woods for some time.

“I wasn't even truly aware of the terrible state that the Hillside woods was in until taking AP environmental science this year,” said Co-Vice President Chelsea Seidel. “We walked around the woods and we could see how the invasive plants have completely taken over the woods.”

With help from the Hillside Woods Restoration Project, a local volunteer group aimed at restoring the 100-acre woodland property, Environmental Club members learned more about the contributing factors to the battle between invasive and native species and how they can help turn the tide.

“It's really important because Hillside Woods is part of this big ecosystem. If you take away one part of the system, you can have far reaching effects on the whole thing,” said Seidel. “We just want to really teach kids that there are things that they can do within their community.”

Hoping to spread awareness to all Hastings-on-Hudson residents, the Environmental Club believes that it is particularly important to inform the children.

“A lot of people don't know about this, especially children who haven't had exposure to it, so that was a big reason for doing this,” said Seidel.

“I think the younger you are when you learn about this issue, the more likely you are to be involved in addressing it later on,” added O’Flaherty.

For O’Flaherty and Seidel, instructing younger students is also a way to pass on the torch.

“We’re seniors, so we leave next year but we're hoping that people will still keep doing things to protect and restore the environment at Hastings,” O’Flaherty said.