Mesa community rallies for 10th anniversary of Canyon Day cleanup


Two Canyon Day volunteers removing debris. Phot credit: Office of Communications

Aleah Jarin, Staff Writer

San Diego Mesa College held its 10th anniversary of Canyon Day cleanup on April 14 at Tecolote Canyon, just a short walk from Mesa College. Students and faculty were out in full force ready to pick up trash from the canyon and remove non-native plants in an effort to keep the environment healthy.

President of Mesa, Dr. Pamela T. Luster, was on site and provided student volunteers with certificates for volunteering and giving back to the community. Luster stated, “We started [Canyon Day cleanup] 10 years ago because we wanted to build the parking garage that’s at the end of campus, and to do that we had to get permission to go into the canyon a little bit.” She went onto to explain that “the naturalists of Tecolote Canyon were worried that it would violate the canyon and [they] wanted to keep the natural resource clean, so we agreed to do Canyon Cleanup once a year.”

Canyon Day not only works to keep Tecolote Canyon clean, but it allows Mesa students to earn great community service hours and interact with peers. Among those volunteering, were many students from the San Diego Promise Program which provides scholarships and assists students financially through school. This event allowed those in Promise to fulfill their community service hours.

Carlos Cortez, Mesa student and Promise scholar, shared why he chose to volunteer, “Helping the environment is very important in my eyes, if you don’t take care of the environment eventually it’s going to be gone.” Cortez also shared what he got out of the event, both physically and mentally. “I got a bit of a workout…but I got [an adrenaline] rush because I’m helping the environment [and] it feels good to help.”

Canyon Day also brought in many first time volunteers, such as Mesa student Alexandra Bakke. Bakke mentioned, “This is my first time volunteering, I’m happy to be doing it for the 10th anniversary.” She then shared how she “met some cool people” through this event and saw some of nature works out in the canyon.

Though there were warnings of poison oak and rattlesnakes, as Park Ranger Cameron Englehart brought attention to, this did not stop those from completing the task.

When asked what has kept this ongoing tradition alive over the years, President Luster said “You know they say many hands make light work, I think that’s part of it. If you’re a part of Mesa, we are a community and we like to do things together, so I think [Canyon Day] is another time for us to get together and help out.”

Tecolote Canyon and Mesa College have a bond, quite literally due to their close proximity to each other, and this bond seems to continue to enrich students through their volunteer events and tours of the canyon that the school provides. With the help of the Mesa Community, Tecolote Canyon can look forward to a healthy environment in the next years to come.