Quaker Service Trips

by Kate McHale, Quaker Voluntary Service Fellow

One meaningful way that Historic Fair Hill has engaged with education and Quaker values this year was partnering on field trips focused on service work to three Philadelphia-area Quaker schools. Students ranging in age from 5th to 8th grade from Friends Select School, Westtown School, and Germantown Friends School have come to our community gardens multiple times each throughout the year and learned about the history of the burial ground whilst doing service work to aid our community.

This longer-term volunteering allowed students to make a deeper connection to our community and mission, and it allowed us as staff to get to know many lovely students! In the gardens, the students helped us by planting seeds and seedlings, watering plants, weeding, and harvesting. In this process they learned about how fruits and vegetables grow and our aim to share fresh, organic vegetables to our neighbors.

It was great to see the kids learn to appreciate engaging with the natural world around them while they contributed to our efforts to increase access to nourishing, fresh food. We didn’t just stop there, though; we also had them help maintain the burial grounds by doing things like mulching around trees, pruning plants, raking leaves, removing fallen branches, and picking up trash. Our leaf compost pile has probably tripled in size and the burial ground looks well-kept and welcoming thanks to the students’ hard work.

Our historic burial ground has many Quaker activists buried here, and these Quaker schools have helped us continue their environmental stewardship and fights for equality. Educating young people about these activists’ work while giving them the tools (literally and figuratively!) to continue it themselves is just one of the many rewarding ways Historic Fair Hill has been able to engage with students this year.

As the Quaker Voluntary Service Fellow at HFH for 2022-2023, demonstrating to kids that helping your community doesn’t have to wait until you’re older is something I believe is a very important part of my work, and I’ve learned a lot from leading these trips and my service with HFH in local school libraries. Plus, as a Quaker myself, I’m glad I could demonstrate to students that Quakerism isn’t just limited to people sitting silently in a big room, it’s also actively working for equality and justice and seeing the value in the Earth and every community member. It’s easy to love service work when you get to work with tons of friendly, joyful kids from all walks of life and see them grow to understand the value of reading, the natural world, and the people around them!

Other news

Scroll to Top