It started with goat-heads. As anyone who has ever biked the Jordan River Trail can attest, goat-heads along the path have been an issue. It was an issue our Executive Director first took on with a pair of gloves and a trash bag more than 10 years ago. From pulling goat-heads our river-stewardship efforts have evolved and grown. We have now been doing river clean ups with partners as diverse as the U.S. Air Force, Tracy Aviary, The Sierra Club, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, not to mention The Jordan River Commission, Splore and the Natural History Museum of Utah. "I'm indigenous," says Executive Director Gilberto "Juan" Rejón Magana. "For me a river is like the veins in my body. It is life-blood. We have to keep it clean." Nearly every weekend a group of Hartland volunteers can be found on the Jordan River or the Jordan River path cleaning up the river, the path or the surrounding environment. Some weekends the effort is super-sized. On the weekend of July 14th, 2018 a group of volunteers paddled a short stretch of the river pulling out over a ton of trash.
River-stewardship is not only about cleaning up. It is also about education, community involvement and pride. We have partnered the U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the Tracy Aviary and the Natural History Museum of Utah to help educate our West Side community about the river ecosystem. Our children have learned about the smallest of the insects, the diverse bird population, the beaver, turtles and fish and how everything is connected and interdependent, including us. We are a part of the river, and the river is a part of us. From the instructors at Splore Utah we have been learning the craft of canoeing, the paddle strokes, river safety and techniques for navigating a waterway. We are in the process of developing river leaders in our community - people who can take the lead on a river and in stewardship efforts!
Over the past two years we have engaged with a new partner to get our young women out into the wild. Many of us live in Utah and Salt Lake for the surrounding wilderness. Many on the West Side of the city seldom have the means or opportunity to access these natural wonders. Hartland has partnered with SheJumps, an organization running outdoor adventure and education opportunities for girls and women, to bring our young women to the mountains and desert of Utah. So far we have been alpine skiing 6 times over two years, been camping near Moab, learned camping skills and wilderness survival skills as well as snowshoeing, hiking, climbing (we went climbing 4 times last year) and we are looking forward to more with SheJumps this year as well.
All of our programs serve both as motivation and a tool for education. In order to participate, our students must demonstrate objective improvement in their academic performance, and, unlike many sports-based youth organizations we are not oriented toward competitive outcomes as much as providing opportunities for personal development. Our partnership with the schools our participants attend is vital to the program. We are able to track our students as well as help them find the resources they need to succeed at school.
The below slideshow gives you some images of our environmental and outdoor programming:
To learn more about our community engagement philosophy and programs please click that button below.