2013 Sacramento, California, USA
As a student at Mira Loma High School, Preethi Raju participates in the Arcade Creek Project, which aims to restore Arcade Creek by having students engage in a variety of actions, such as testing water chemistry to check for pollution, cataloging the different plants and animals, and taking part in restoration tasks. In addition, Mira Loma students hold various outreach events throughout the year to inform the public about how they can help to ensure the creek stays healthy.
As students spend time and learn more about the creek area, they are encouraged to think of ways to improve and expand upon stewardship of this natural resource
After visiting Arcade Creek, Raju was particularly concerned with the invasive, non-native plant Himalayan Blackberry, This aggressive, thorny bush grows quickly, has a large root system, and outcompetes native plants. Thus, these native plants are deprived of their habitats, and so are the animals that depend on these plants.
Raju wrote a proposal to increase the number of student volunteers and work events held to limit the encroachment of Himalayan Blackberry. Her proposal included recruiting students from other area high schools. Raju’s proposal made the Caring for Our Watersheds finals, and as a result of her actions, more than 20 students joined the effort to help remove the non-native plant.
With implementation funds from Nutrien, Raju purchased new tools to remove the invasive species and held outings after school various times throughout the year to go and work on the plants. The students not only removed considerable blackberry from several sites, but also engaged in other projects, such as picking up trash and planting seeds for native plants.