ASPI is very grateful to have had help from the Appalachian Challenge Academy. There were a few groups from the Challenge Academy and they each spent a day volunteering at our Nature Center by the Rockcastle River. The cadets were a huge help with working on the trails, painting, and cleaning up the garden. I worked with them at the garden and I wish I had a before and after picture, because they definitely transformed the garden! Now the garden is cleaned up and ready for winter with all the weeds pulled, cloth covering the garden, and a fresh layer of mulch on the pathways. I loved having lots of help with manual labor because we got so much accomplished. The cadets worked hard, but they also seemed to enjoy being at the Nature Center. Some even asked to come back the next week.

Some of their leaders seemed to have told them we were hippies, but the cadets agreed that we weren’t and that was a wrong impression. Besides giving us their help, the cadets also got to learn some about sustainable living. Our Rockcastle River site has some wonderful demonstrations for living sustainably. The cadets were especially intrigued by our composting toilets. Most of them seemed to enjoy being out in nature and going on a hike, so I’m glad they got to have fun while also working hard.