On August 29, 2015, as a part of their welcome week, freshman from Valparaiso University came out to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore for a day of park stewardship. About 70 students showed up to the Central Beach parking lot to remove invasive plant species. Spirits were high; for most of the students this day marked the beginning of their college career.

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The early morning saw rain but it did not hinder the volunteers’ ability or will to restore the surrounding savannah. A rousing introduction by Ted Winterfeld informed and enriched the students in their understanding of the impact they were about to make. Discussions and jests continued throughout the course of combat with the non-native flora. The invaders were swiftly defeated. Three hours of work resulted in a drastic change to the savannah floor and saved several trees that were being choked by vines. Invasive species that were removed include: Oriental Bittersweet, Multiflora Rose, Burning Bush, and Privet.

In only a few hours this group of volunteers achieved a goal that would have taken a small team of park employees a month to accomplish. At the end of the day a much deserved lunch was enjoyed before the students headed off to their next activity. Thank you students for making a difference and deciding to get up, get out, and find your park!

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