One with Nature: Social Awareness and Action in Highland Park

by Nomin Jigd, Highland Park High School, Class of 2015

HPHS Scholars volunteer at the Heller Nature Center in Highland Park.

On a chilly Saturday in September, Schuler Scholars from Highland Park High School received the opportunity to fulfill their service hours in a fun and rewarding manner at the Heller Nature Center in Highland Park. As part of our Social Action and Awareness initiative, Schuler Scholars at Highland Park High School complete two service projects each semester. I have never been to the Heller Nature Center before, but fall is a great time to visit. They host a Harvest Festival, where numerous fall activities attract nature lovers. At this event families can participate in pumpkin carving, scarecrow-making, and hay rides.
Our task that day was to improve the safety of a park for the young nature lovers. The children's playground needed fresh wood chips to provide a more cushioned walk space. Initially, I thought the task was going to be easy and wouldn't take too much time. My thoughts changed as my arms grew tired from shoveling damp wood chips into wheelbarrows. It was hard work and it did take a long time. Although I was physically tired, there was never a dull moment during the service hours because of how engaged we Scholars were. Each grade level learned something new about each other and some even bonded closely over their mutual enthusiasm for the service project.

During the break, we played a fun game to get to know our fellow Scholars, especially our newest class of freshmen. We learned each other's names and shared laughter like a big family. I personally felt much closer to my Schuler peers and Coaches.  The experience strengthened my idea of volunteering. Not only does volunteering create good for the community, it gives volunteers the rewarding knowledge that they completed generous acts of kindness. Volunteering also provides an opportunity to bond with others. Forming these relationships and hobbies helps strengthen the strong values that we embody as Schuler Scholars. 


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