Bash’s Branches Project

  • Location
    Columbia, Gaithersburg, Ellicott City, Clarksville, Dayton, Oakland Mills, Washington DC, Maryland
  • Status
  • Age Level
    4 and Under
    5 to 7 Years
    8 to 10 Years

The Problem

Problem to Address: After two significant floods hit Ellicott City, MD, this neighborhood faced erosion along the banks that impacted the stability of the stream and the health of the watershed. Many trees in the neighborhood are being overrun by vines and this is causing loss of trees that adds to the stream bank’s instability.

Our Plan

Actions to Implement: Bash’s Branches Project aims to: 1. Empower young people in the Bonnie Branch Community to enhance their neighborhood environment; 2. Drive community through a day of action to support the project outcomes; and 3. Increase the wellbeing of the Bonnie Branch neighborhood through supporting healthy tree growth and clean water management for—and with—the neighborhood we all share.

Themes Addressed

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    Animal Welfare
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    Clean Water
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    Community Enhancement

The Benefit

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Here is how the project went:

Highlights from Bash: 1. Some of my best times. 2. The project went "good". 3. I enjoyed the time with my friends and being able to help the planet. 4. I learned how to box cut invasive vines to help the trees (special thanks to our County's Natural Resources Department)! 5. I would like to do another project next year.  These insights from a six-year-old kid help to highlight the impact these mini-grants have on youth and their perspectives. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to share this experience with my family and our neighborhood. We have 34 kids and parents join us for a day of vine cutting, garbage pickup, and creating native recycled seed-paper for thank you cards. Each family spent 4 (or more) hours helping to ensure that Bash's Branches' goals were reached.  In keeping with Roots and Shoots mission to drive community through investing in the environment we all share, it is worth noting that our local Parks and Recreation's Natural Resources Department also spent time supporting this project. They came to the site twice to help map out the area for the project and also to walk Bash and his sister through the difference between native v. invasice species, how to properly use box-cutting for vines, and to provide bandanas (with local native tree species) for the volunteers. We even discussed an extension of the project in the fall where we can work with the department to plant shoots in the area. The Howard County Department of Natural Resources were so kind and helpful in this process that I truly felt the goal of creating community coming to life. All of this was before we implemented the project on Aug. 5 during four hours of packed fun cleaning up our neighborhood and improving the health of our open lands. 

Through this project I/we learned:

1. Box-cutting to help support trees being impacted by vines; 2. How to make recycled seed-paper; 3. The native vines have a spice smell; 4. The invasive vines have a white center; 5. Garlic mustard plants are not native and they aren't good for the open lands and should be removed before they flower in the summer; and 6. Leading community projects are rewarding because you get to feel happy about doing "a lot of good things".

What I/we might change:

From a parent's perspective, I might change the four hour day into 2 shorter time frames to better manage the energy required for the tasks. Bash says, "I wouldn't change anything!"

My/our favorite part of this project was:

"Everybody working together to be kind to the earth," said Bash.

Some tips, tricks or fun facts about the project:

I would highly recommend the inclusion of the native seed-paper made from recycled paper. It was so fun to be able to have a craft for the project that we could use to thank everyone involved and continue to spread word both about the project and to see the fun continue as the flowers grow in the future!

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