Youth Volunteer Corps of Reading students working at Rock Hollow Woods launched a week-long project this past month to build a raised walkway through designated wetlands in the Schuylkill River watershed.

The project, funded by a grant from Youth Volunteer Corps national headquarters, will support Rock Hollow Woods in creating a wetland learning station, accessible by the construction of the proposed elevated walkway.

“It is great to see young people working together towards a goal…The boardwalk will lead to a new learning station in an area we have never explored.” said Jean McCarney, Executive Director of Rock Hollow Woods Environmental Learning Center. “We are grateful to be working with VOiCEup and YVC students! It is very exciting.”

The boardwalk is the first phase of the project and will be followed in the second phase by the construction of picnic tables for use in the area. The goal of the project is to deepen participants’ knowledge and understanding of wetlands, stream habitats, and the life cycle of insects, as well as expose participants to noninvasive construction techniques that protect and preserve the environment.

Rock Hollow Woods is a unique 77-acre nonprofit learning center whose mission is to provide youth with outdoor opportunities to discover and learn about the natural world and empower them to protect their environment.

The 70-foot boardwalk will have two functions. The first is to permit visitors to have increased access to the wetland area for things such as bird and butterfly watching, creek exploration, and educational activities including macroinvertebrate and amphibian observation.

The second function is to make the wetland area more accessible for youth with physical limitations. Jim McCarney, cofounder of Rock Hollow Wood Environmental Learning Center and self-employed carpenter for over two decades, will be leading the construction of the boardwalk and picnic tables.

“It’s great to see youth from all over Berks come together, safely, to build the boardwalk and further enhance Rock Hollow’s ability to educate.” said Lindsay Sites, Program Director for Youth Volunteer Corps of Reading. “We are excited that YVC of Reading can bring these types of service-learning opportunities to students in Berks County.”