I was so excited for the travel project not because I was going to another national park, but I was going to see the Branching Out Program again and actually get to work with the New York and Boston Field Teams for the first time. I knew this work week was going to be the highlight of my summer and it so was! Going to Valley Forge National Historical Park was a wonderful experience. This park is so massive and filled with so much wild life and has breathtaking beautiful landscapes for recreational purposes. On the first day of work, the Field Teams and the interns all did a scavenger hunt to learn about the park’s history. There were four different groups and the names of the groups were The Kings, The Lean Mean Nature Machine, Alice and Wonderlanders, and Team Mean and Green. All the teams had designated drivers who took them to all the different sites that was on the instructions and maps that each team was given. The teams had to pay attention to details and had to read the instructions very carefully to get full credit to points in order to win. The teams had to take pictures of the eight sites in order to show proofs that the teams had been their. The scavenger hunt was extremely competitive, fun, and exciting at the same time. I never seen youth so eager to learn! When all the teams got finished with their scavenger hunt, we had to return to the picnic site and return all the evidence we had and Instagram posts that was made by each team. The leaders took time to calculate all the points from each team and the Alice and Wonderlanders were the winners and they received prizes. The Branching Out learned that this park is significant because it was the place were eleven different armies came together to unite as one American army. These brave men trained in the worst conditions of winter out of all the seasons possible.
For the rest of the work week, Branching Out was divided into three groups since their were three main projects that took place around Valley Forge. I was with the Knox Estate Group and in my group was Michelle, Patrick (NY), Guillermo(NY), Tony, Jaquill(NY), and Bukari. Gabrielle Berry and Kate Jensen were our leaders at the site we were working on. Our main task was we pulled Stilt Grass and trimmed U-tree that contained dead branches. Our group learned that Riparian buffer are the transition zone between land and stream. Especially, Meadow buffer which is where we worked on are important part of Valley Creek ecosystem. In this buffer their are different level of grasses that absorbs water and let’s sediments run smoothly down to the stream without causing soil erosion. In addition, it is a important habitat area for animals and macroinvertebrates such as crayfish, dragonflies which are used to evaluate water quality of the creek. Our group pulled the stilt grass because we wanted to show more Native plants and Native grasses. Stilt grass is shallow rooted, has white clear stripe down the center of the grass leaf and they are very invasive to the region and take away from the Native plants from growing and thriving. U-Tree was trimmed for the future where around winter the workers will be able to spray herbicides to kill all the invasive plants that grows underneath the U-Tree. The tree was also trimmed so the workers can safely reach under the tree and not get harmed by the dead branches. I enjoyed my time visiting Valley Forge National Historical Park and I cannot wait to go visit many more in the future.