Bethany J. Royer
PIQUA — It was a dream that became a tongue-in-cheek nightmare, said Tony Trapp, apprenticeship coordinator and assistant HVACR instructor at Upper Valley Career Center, in a good-natured gesture of having provided the idea to clear honeysuckle surrounding the canal at Fountain Park Wednesday. As junior and senior students from the Environmental Occupations program, along with their level I and level II instructors, Michaella Quinter and Jim Metz, began the task of clearing the invasive plant that morning. Not an easy job by any means but one that should make a lot of people happy.
Joining in the collaboration was Bob Graeser, urban forester and project manager, Don Freisthler, water system superintendent, and David Burtner, director of utilities, and many other city employees. However, this is not the first time the Upper Valley Career Center program has worked with the city of Piqua. Other projects have included clearing trees at the city golf course, among others.
By lunchtime, the group had cleared 150 feet of honeysuckle from the canal side nearest the baseball diamond, the instructors mentioning the number of baseballs in various stages of decay discovered. and the weather more than agreeable. The group utilizing a host of equipment — from chainsaws that belong to the program to a chipper loaned (And with many thanks) from TreeCare Inc. The students well-versed in not only safety measures related to the chipper but in proper handling and care of the equipment they would be using throughout the day, as explained by Metz. One imperative piece was the Kevlar chainsaw chaps students wore, the unique fiber insulation will jam the saw should it come in contact with the wearer, stopping the rotation and saving the user from a nasty injury.
According to Metz, it only makes sense to use such a simple, inexpensive item to protect those working with a chainsaw. The students in the program again so well-versed about safety, work ethics, and taking care of equipment that, “I would put them (students) up against any veterans because they know how to do it right.”
The honeysuckle, once pulled from the bank and put through the chipper will then be used to line trails, among other potential uses. The battle with the invasive plant nothing new as students and instructors tackle it on the 188-acre land lab located behind the career center.
Students who attend the two year Environmental Occupations program can look forward to employment in a variety of jobs including parks and recreation management, forestry, game warden, park ranger, and educational opportunities.
Bethany J. Royer may be reached at (937) 773-2721 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall