MSW & Hoopa Soccer Field Work Day

Hoopa's New Soccer Field Becoming a Reality - TCCC and HSU Students Join Forces to Plant Trees

By Kay Heitkamp, Two Rivers Tribune

On March 31, 2011 the grassy area that will become home to a new soccer field in Hoopa just off of Highway 96 was the site of a great deal of activity as a work crew from Americorp's Hoopa Valley TCCC, led by Leslie Booth, joined forces with 20 students from Humboldt State University's Social Work Master's Program in a massive tree-planting event. Volunteers made use of an abundance of wheel barrows, shovels, and all sorts of gardening tools.

The event was coordinated by HSU student, Rebecca Maynard, who gave credit to her classmates, their teacher, Jamie Kerr, and HSU Professor Michael Yellow Bird, who, along with Tahsanchat Ferris-Wilson at TCCC, helped plan and organize the event.

According to Maynard, the emphasis of the Master's Program is Indigenous peoples and the focus is on building relationships with rural, tribal communities.

"This gives us as students a chance to see how we can bridge the gap between what we study and learn about and then be able to go out and work in the community," said Maynard. "To be meaningful, you have to process the information you learn. It has to go out of your head and into your heart."

Asked how the idea for planting trees at the soccer field came about, Maynard said that the students decided to plan a project that would give them an opportunity to make connections, get involved, and begin developing relationships with an organization in Hoopa.

"We wanted to get involved, but didn't know how to make it happen," said Maynard, who has two young sons in the Mad River Soccer League. Last season, she came out for their games in Hoopa and struck up a conversation over chili with a woman at the concession stand.

Maynard read an article in the Two Rivers Tribune and learned about the need for donations to help Hoopa's youth soccer teams. The article included Tahsanchat's phone number at TCCC. The two talked over the phone and realized they had met at the concession stand.

As the saying goes, a light bulb went off. It was decided that the best way for the HSU group to get involved locally would be through a joint interest in soccer between communities on the coast and here in Hoopa.

"You can really feel the family and team spirit here," Maynard said. "The community has been very welcoming."

Zachary Stevens from Arcata grew and donated the 90 Monterey pines that were planted around the perimeter of the field. The trees will provide shade and act as a windbreak as they mature. The field itself will need to be amended and prepared for planting. Donations of soil additives, grass seed, and lumber for benches will be needed to finish the project.

Therese Duke, also a student, is a master gardener and served as a consultant during the planting process. Taking a look around the rocky field and surrounding areas, she commented, "People living in Chicago would pay good money for those rocks."

Asked if there are other projects lined up to make the soccer field become a reality, Maynard said this was a preliminary group outing to help determine what's needed and get members from both communities involved.

"I don't think people on the coast realize how beautiful it is out here and how great everyone is – the kids, the parents, and the coaches," said Maynard. "I think people will want to get involved and help, but they just don't know how."

"The joy of watching the children play is what will unify our communities," said Maynard.