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For spring break, 10 Colby students went to St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands to help with environmental conservation work in U.S. Virgin Islands National Park. We camped all week at Cinnamon Bay Campground in tents on platforms just a two minute walk from the beautiful sand beach. Each morning, our volunteer coordinator, Nick, who works for Friends of Virgin Islands National Park, would pick us up and take us to our work site in the park service van. Most of our work involved cutting branches and removing brush that disrupted trails throughout the park, specifically on l’esperance trail. Our first day, however, was my favorite. We drove to a spot on a more secluded road, and met with the National Park Service archeology crew. We followed them through the forest, ducking under trees because the old danish roads that dated back to the 1700s were completely overgrown. We eventually came across ruins of a former plantations, where the archeology group was collecting items, such as old glass bottles and pottery, and taking measurements to try to have this site added to the national registry of historic places. Our job was to cut small plants and trees that hindered their ability to take measurements and photographs, which are necessary to register this site. With all of us working together, we were able to accomplished what was needed in a short period of time. At the end of the day we were hot and exhausted, but we rewarded ourselves with some swimming and snorkeling back at Cinnamon Bay. The rest of the week continued in a similar fashion, with trail work throughout the day and some swimming and relaxing later in the afternoon. The members of the group fed off of one another’s excitement as we stayed motivated despite bug bites and physical fatigue. We bonded over roasted marshmellows and learned some new drumming skills. We even were able to visit the Virgin Islands Environmental Research Station and see a museum dedicated to the NASA tektite project that took place there. It was an exciting week exploring a new environment and efforts to better understand and protect it. By the end of the week we had cleared numerous areas for recreation within the park service, keeping them as sacrificial corridors for visitor enjoyment, so that the rest of the park would remain intact and protected.

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