Choffin Students Join CityScape Beautification Efforts

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Students took advantage of the sunny weather at Choffin Career & Technical Center on Wednesday morning to clean up the campus as they prepare for beautification planting in the city.

Adam Lee, program director for Youngstown CityScape, said it is important for students to understand the aspects of service and environmental impact and beautification of potential green space on the campus. 

“The general game plan is to remove litter – we are getting rid of some of the invasive species and dead fall from last season and the past to just start with a basic cleanup,” he said.

In addition to the cleanup, students will be planting a mix of native steep slope seeds on the hillside adjacent to campus and the YMCA parking lot, Lee said. He said this will help to crowd out invasive species and pollinate insects. 

“It’s a huge mix of plants – both annual and perennial plants,” Lee said.

Seeds for the plants came from Ernst Conservation Seeds in Meadville, which specializes in native species mixes.

“It is really important when you’re doing a project like this to source properly,” he said. 

Adam Lee, program director of Youngstown Cityscape, was on hand for the cleanup at Choffin on Wednesday.

Lee said he hopes the event will be incorporated into the longer-term vision of service and education for the technical center. 

The area was identified by Lee as a spring cleanup area to address while looking for areas to cover during CityScape’s June planting day. After reaching out to the school, he said they decided to get the students involved at an earlier date in hopes of making it an educational experience. 

“There are a lot of opportunities for learning just in the outdoor space and getting a lot of pride for their [the student’s] city and helping with beautification,” he said. “It really can have a lot of ongoing effects for making a safer community, as well.”

Michael Saville, Choffin director, said the school believes there may be some opportunities to renovate in that area in the near future. While assessing the property, Saville said they decided to clean up the land to make that “initial step forward.” 

“There is a lot of trash back there. There is a lot of overgrowth, and our goal today is just to engage the students to clean up a little bit, beautify and get ready for the summer,” he said.

The morning junior class crew, whose shift lasted from 7:45 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., had about 25 to 30 students.

“They’re working hard, and I saw the progress in the last hour and it has been tremendous,” Saville said. 

An additional group of senior students were set to participate from noon to 2 p.m. 

Michael Saville, Choffin director, said the horticulture building at the school has been in decline for the past few years.

Choffin is also in the process of renovating its horticulture building, which Saville said has been in decline for the past few years. The school is in the process of applying for grants for the 3,000-square-foot greenhouse and 9,000-square-foot usable space in the basement and upper floor, he said.

“We are looking to renovate this to be kind of community impact,” he said. “We want to grow food here. We want to create food here with our culinary program, and we also want to integrate entrepreneurship into our business programs to have a bigger impact on the community.”

Saville said they want to bring logistics and supply chain to satisfy local companies and start that with service projects that emphasize skills and help the community at the same time.

The tools and materials used came from Choffin’s inventory, contributions from the city of Youngstown, Youngstown CityScape and a donation of loppers, trimmers, buckets and other items from the Austintown Home Depot, Saville said.

Saville said he believes it is important to get students involved in projects like this.

“They are our hope for the future, so this is a good first step to have that appreciation and see the benefit of their work,” he said.

Those wanting to get involved in future projects can sign up HERE

Pictured at top: Choffin Career & Technical Center students cleaned up around the campus Wednesday.

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