“Why does she get to shovel all the mulch? It’s my turn!” These are words you don’t hear often and never expect from an 11-year-old. But it happened this past summer when the Pulaski County Junior Cougar Summer Camp helped the Friends of Peak Creek (FOPC) in the Heritage Park Pollinator Garden located in Pulaski.

When FOPC was formed in 2013, it focused primarily on the health and aesthetics of Peak Creek located in downtown Pulaski. FOPC’s first community event was a semi-organized call for volunteers to help pick up litter in and around the creek before the annual town festival, Pulaskifest. The response to this simple call was overwhelming. Town and county officials donated hours from staffers and loaned heavy equipment while many community volunteers chipped in as well.

The mission was, and still is, to protect, preserve and enhance the environment of Peak Creek, but that perspective has grown throughout the years, both geographically as well as ideologically. It now encompasses the entire 60 square mile watershed of Peak Creek, along with a wide variety of projects that support the environment. This broad range of interconnections invites the interest of people with various backgrounds and talents, which, in turn, helps bring differing perspectives and ideas to the FOPC mission.

The Heritage Park Pollinator Garden is one of FOPC’s most popular projects, located adjacent to Peak Creek. This summer, the spirit of voluntarism so clear six years ago was on display again with The Junior Cougar Camp kids. Campers have community service hours built into their weekly curriculum and the Pollinator Garden was one of the sites that benefitted from those hours this year. Eighteen middle school students stayed busy at the garden picking up litter, planting trees, carrying water, building birdhouses and mulching flower beds.

An amazing and reassuring truth has been proven over and over these past few years with FOPC’s activities: if you give people an opportunity to support the health and beautification of their community, they will. Show people the results of their good work and they will return and do it again. Let them know how much they are appreciated and they will not only return, they will bring someone with them. Those simple facts and the commitment of our community have been and continue to be the bedrock of Friends of Peak Creek’s success. To learn more about FOPC, visit http://www.friendsofpeakcreek.org/.

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