by: PHOTO BY: KYLIE WRAY - Jerry Herrmann and his crew of youth put up four swallow nest boxes in Gladstone, including this one in front of the US Bank branch on McLoughlin Boulevard, and six in downtown Oregon City. The swallow boxes were constructed carefully so that the birds would be concealed and still wouldnt be able to make their art work on nearby cars, according to Herrmann.From Sept. 15, 2012, through April 30, the nonprofit group Earth Crusaders and the Oregon City School District teamed up under an Oregon City Metro Enhancement Grant to improve their town.

Over the course of the eight-month project, 14 work parties weeded and cleaned up 2,500 feet of Railroad Avenue; pruned, thinned and mulched 89 tree wells; and planted 1,500 dry-landscape plants and bulbs.

Many of the Earth Crusaders volunteers were between the ages of 14 and 17, keeping with founder Jerry Herrmann’s goals of helping youths find meaningful work opportunities.

The Oregon City High School Junior ROTC program, under Maj. Doug Thomas, also was involved in the program.

“It’s amazing, the amount of service they do,” Herrmann said.

The ROTC group also was given a $500 stipend for their commitment to the $8,825 Metro grant, and an additional $400 grant came from US Bank. With 940 hours put into the project, the total value was calculated at more than $20,000

Some of the students were given the chance to be project crew leaders. Herrmann hopes the skills they learned will help them become leaders among their peers at school.

In addition, undergraduate students from Warner Pacific College’s Urban Studies program were involved in the project, with the help of their professors.

“We just wanted to show that young people can get things done, and get things done well,” Herrmann said. “Many adults would have been shamed.”

Herrmann wanted to emphasize that the project strived to create a beautiful space where humans and wildlife can live together.

“I’m fundamentally against the thinking that urban areas are for people and wildlife can go somewhere else,” Herrmann said.

According to him, there is a subtle difference between a groomed landscape and one that is fit for wildlife.

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