The Northaven Trail Gets Blooming

Spencer Burke hands out Hershey bars and wildflower seed balls to pedestrians and bikers along the Northaven Trail.
Pedestrian trail user, Renee Jansen, makes wildflower seed balls to pollinate the Northaven Trail.
Northaven Board member, Will Dawson, takes a bag of seed balls to disburse in pollinator patches along the Trail. Assisting in the project are Troop 577 Boy Scouts Oliver Burke and Jackson McDowell and Northaven Board member Leighton Weiss.

Earth Day 2021 was celebrated along the Northaven Trail this year with a community wildflower seed ball building activity led by Spencer Burke, a Northaven Trail Captain and Eagle Scout. Burke was awarded a Hershey Heartwarming Youth Heroes grant through Global Youth Service America to conduct the community event. 

As a part of Global Youth Service Day and Earth Day 2021, Spencer led a team of youth volunteers to make over 500 native wildflower seed balls. The wildflower seeds consisted of a native mixture specifically selected by Burke to attract pollinators and thrive in an urban-pedestrian trail environment. The volunteers then approached bikers, walkers, and families along the trail, gave them a bag of seed balls, and asked them to throw the seed balls in designated pollinator patches throughout the Northaven Trail, a commuter and recreational bike and hike trail built and maintained by the Dallas Parks and Recreation Department. 

Burke serves as a Trail Captain of the Northaven Trail through the Friends of the Northaven Trail, a volunteer organization for the support, maintenance and beautification of the Northaven Trail. The only youth serving as a Trail Captain, Burke regularly walks and monitors his section of the Trail, reports issues, and assists with trail range management. “Thank you, Spencer Burke, for organizing this seed bomb event. As a founding member of our Trail Captains program, Spencer has worked hard since October 2019 keeping his section of the trail in great shape. Today’s event will benefit all trail users as new wildflowers were planted along the trail’s eight miles,” said Will Dawson, Friends of Northaven Trail Board Member. 

Global Youth Service Day (GYSD), a campaign of Youth Service America (YSA), is the largest youth service and civic action event in the world and the only one that celebrates all youth ages 5-25 who help our communities and democracy thrive by working together for the common good. YSA awarded 140 Hershey Heartwarming Young Heroes to youth all over the United States, including Burke, to lead community-building activities to foster meaningful connections and community-building activities, promote inclusion, and teach empathy.

Spencer, a rising senior at St. Mark’s School of Texas and Eagle Scout with Scouts BSA Troop 577 at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, is especially passionate about protecting the environment. He previously led conservation projects to remove invasive species and plant Texas native grasses and wildflowers at the Twelve Hills Nature Center, built and installed 100 solitary bee nesting boxes in parks and recreation areas all over the City of Dallas, and is currently raising hundreds of Northern Bobwhite Quail to reintroduce in the endangered Blackland Prairie at the Connemara Conservancy and Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area. “It was really great seeing our community come together after being isolated in their homes for so long from COVID-19; it is truly amazing how the power of people working together can make a difference in our environment. Next spring, I can’t wait to see the Northaven Trail ablaze with Texas wildflowers and buzzing with native pollinators,” Burke said. 


YSA (YOUTH SERVICE AMERICA)

Youth Service America believes that youth, communities, and democracy thrive when we all work together for the common good. YSA is a leading global nonprofit that activates young people, ages 5-25, to find their voice, take action and acquire powerful civic and 21st-century skills as they solve problems facing their communities. YSA supports its activation campaigns with grants, training and resources, and recognition programs for young people and their adult champions. Youth-led projects use Awareness, Service, Advocacy, and Philanthropy (ASAP) strategies to create social and environment change. www.YSA.org

FRIENDS OF NORTHAVEN TRAIL

Friends of the Northaven Trail is a volunteer organization for the support, maintenance and beautification of the Northaven Trail, a commuter and recreational bike and hike trail built and maintained by the Dallas Parks and Recreation Department. The trail runs from Central Expressway to Denton Drive with plans to connect to the White Rock Creek Trail on the east and Irving’s Campion Trail on the west. The eastern expansion begins this spring, with a bridge over US 75.

SCOUTS BSA TROOP 577

Scouts BSA Troop 577 is chartered by St. Luke’s Episcopal church in Dallas, Texas. Troop 577 is in the Elm Fork District, Circle Ten Council, Boy Scouts of America. The Circle Ten Council is comprised of 24 counties. Over 32,000 young people participate in the council’s Scouting programs on an annual basis and more than 8,800 adult volunteers dedicate their time and energy to make this program a success. Scouting units are chartered to over 800 community organizations such as schools and churches. Scouts today learn lessons about life and the value of being a person of character and integrity.

Max Johnson tosses a native wildflower seed ball into a thriving pollinator patch along the Northaven Trail.
Northaven Trail Captain and Eagle Scout Spencer Burke leads a wildflower seed ball building activity along the Northaven Trail. The seed balls are then thrown in pollinator areas spaced throughout the 8 mile Northaven Trail
Boy Scout Troop 577 Scouts make native wildflower seed balls to throw along the Northaven Trail. Pictured from left to right in the rear are William Warren, Jackson McDowell, Oliver Burke, Spencer Burke, Max Johnson and Sam Baxter in front.