Nick Coltrain

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June 22, 2012
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Portland H.S. students volunteer in Carson City's Riverview Park

These high school students were enjoying the outdoors, but they weren't lounging under shade trees or scaling mountains - they were volunteering to make it better.

Twenty-two high school students from the Portland, Ore., area stopped in Carson City's Riverview Park Thursday to wrap cottonwood trees in chicken wire to protect them from beavers and yank noxious weeds as part of a four-community tour with the Students Today Leaders Forever program. The Minneapolis-based nonprofit is aimed at engaging the youth in service-based leadership.

Some of the crew joked about coming home with "battle scars" after spending the morning working, and they - of course - cheered when asked if Carson City was their favorite of their stops for community service. Their five-day road trip, dubbed the Pay It Forward Tour, took them from Portland to Bend, Ore., Redding, Calif., and Reno before hitting Carson City. Other service included feeding the less fortunate at a homeless shelter and helping out at a community center.

"It makes you feel productive," Caroline Bresler, 16, said. "Otherwise, you're sitting at home watching TV."

Their college student chaperons and program alums gushed about the program's benefits for them and others and their proteges' work ethic. Michelle Williamson, a 20-year-old student at the University of Portland, said that the high school students finished one volunteer session only to turn around and pull weeds in an elderly woman's yard.

"Just seeing them and their enthusiasm, it's awesome," Williamson said.

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Jun 22, 2012 05:40AM Published Jun 22, 2012 05:39AM Copyright 2012 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.