Almost 1,000 Girl Scouts gathered at Pierce College on Thursday for the kickoff of an 18-month cleanup and landscaping project on the college farm and main campus.
The "Girl Scouts Care for the Earth" project is part of a nationwide effort celebrating the 80th anniversary of the organization.
More than 1 million Girl Scouts will work on similar projects throughout the country, said Kim Martinez, director of program services for the San Fernando Valley Girl Scout Council.
The ceremony on the Woodland Hills campus began with the symbolic planting of a liquid amber tree in Swisher Park. Then, the Scouts, ranging from kindergartners to 12th-graders, toured the campus to see where their work would be done.
"The point is to teach these girls about ecology and the environment to make them aware that it is their responsibility as well as ours to care for the Earth," said Brenda Holley-Laderman, Girl Scout training director.
"It will show people that there is still hope for making the world a better place," said 10-year-old Girl Scout Molly Bedard.
The campus beautification project will be supervised by the Foundation for Pierce College, a nonprofit organization established to improve the college's educational and cultural programs.
Garden work and structure repair on the farm will begin April 4 under the supervision of Margo Murman, president of the Coalition to Preserve and Revitalize the Pierce College Farm.
The college arboretum, nature center and swine unit will be the main focus of the volunteers for the first few months, Murman said. "There is going to be a marked difference in the way they look when we finish," she said.
The project "is a good thing for our planet," said Colleen Coghlan, 10, who will help paint the swine unit. "It will help save the planet for when our kids are kids."
Cleanup of the main campus will begin April 11 with Bill Clark, a student senator representing the music department, as coordinator.
"We're going to be filling thousands and thousands of trash bags," Clark said.
"It will make the grass and trees happier," 10-year-old Dominique Alexander said.
Melissa Kendall, 7, wants to help plant trees around the campus. "If there weren't any trees, we wouldn't be living because there would be too much pollution and not enough oxygen," she said.
Pierce is one of two sites in the Valley selected for the Girl Scout project. The other is Van Nuys-Sherman Oaks Park.