Lily Chacon, 13, of Albuquerque, N.M., a seventh-grader at Holy Ghost Catholic School, volunteers with other students at her school to help keep Albuquerque beautiful by working on cleanup and restoration projects in the Rio Grande Bosque, a deciduous forest that winds 16 miles through her city. “Service has always motivated me, inspired me, and helped me come up with ideas for projects,” said Lily. She says she knows what an asset the bosque is to Albuquerque, as a natural recreation area for both residents and tourists. So she always looks forward to going several times a year with her school to work on projects there, even though the physical labor is sometimes arduous.
Working with classmates, Lily helps park rangers and city workers plant trees, clear trail, and pick up trash in the bosque. She says she has learned the value of following directions and working together with others to accomplish meaningful tasks. “Having friends to work with made the job seem a lot easier,” said Lily. In the past two years, Lily has helped plant more than 50 trees in the bosque, and still recalls the thrill she got when she planted her first one. “I felt as if I were going to reach the top of a mountain,” she said.