• HoWL students sweep streets for sponsors, scholarships
by Libby Veasey
Special to the Homer Tribune
A close cousin to the ski bum, the dirtbag is the guy so dedicated to climbing that next pitch, he will literally sleep in the dirt at the base of a wall to get the glory of the sunrise start.
Homer Wilderness Leaders celebrates that spirit of dedication to wilderness adventure by honoring the DiRtBaG. We do it by offering discount rates to the boys and girls (DiRtBaG) to help local kids raise money to fund their wilderness expeditions over the summer.
HoWL has been taking kids across Kachemak Bay and through the mountains, lakes, rivers and beaches of the Kenai Peninsula since 2009. HoWL’s mission is to provide outdoor experiential education to young people in Alaska.
And they do so with gusto.
Whether teaching kids how to forage for edible plants, or roping up to rock climb and glacier-travel in areas of the Kenai Peninsula accessible only by bush plane, HoWL is always exciting. Cooking delicious, wild, local food over a campfire, including nettle-burgers, fireweed fries, and dandelion pancakes, (also known as “dandy-cakes”), are some HoWL camp cuisine favorites.
DiRtBaG students collect pledges from friends and neighbors to correspond with how many pounds of litter they pick up during HoWL DiRtBaG Clean-Up Week.
This year, Clean-Up Week is April 30-May 5, incorporating the Homer Chamber of Commerce Clean-Up Day on May 5. The Chamber’s annual event offers cash prizes to individuals and groups picking up the most litter.
Last year, DiRtBaGs worked hard to take home several top prizes. They plan to double their effort this year with twice as many people picking up twice as much trash — and raising twice as much money for local kids’ DiRtBaG awards.
DiRtBaG students will meet at 3:30 p.m. each day of clean-up week at the R.E.C. Room, 3957 Nielson Circle, to embark on their mission. Saturday DiRtBaGs will meet at Bishop’s Beach at 11 a.m.
Students will pick up litter along Homer beaches and all over town to raise money for their own financial aid. Everyone who volunteers for DiRtBaG Clean-Up Week will receive a free T-shirt, and HoWL is offering lots of great prizes to students who raise the most scholarship money. Prizes include a GoPro Helmet-cam, several expedition-size backpacks, a climbing harness and much more.
In 2011, 15 volunteers picked up 1,593 pounds of litter, raising $1,759 for HoWL scholarships. HoWL needs help to double those numbers.
Volunteers are needed to drive DiRtBaG students to their litter clean-up sites, as well as sponsors to contribute to the scholarship fund. It is HoWL’s goal to ensure that every kid can afford to go on a HoWL expedition this summer.
To sponsor a student or volunteer for DiRtBaG Clean-Up Week, call 399-HOWL, or write to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the program, check out the HoWL website: www.howlalaska.org.
HoWL was founded in Homer by lifelong local Libby B. Veasey (Bushell).
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