Turtle pond shapes up

Starting with seed money supplied by Disney, students will build a habitat for abandoned animals.

March 31, 2007|By Rachel Kane

Turtles at the Burbank Animal Shelter will soon have a place to hang their shells.

Students from Burbank High School are working on giving the shelter its first turtle pond through a volunteer effort started up by Disney's Show Your Character program.

Armed with $500 in start-up money from Disney, groups from 10 different schools in the Southland chose nonprofit projects to do in their communities.


"It's probably the most aggressive project that we've seen because it does entail so many layers of things they have to do in order to get it accomplished," said Jackie Butler, the Burbank group's Disney volunteer advisor.

The Burbank High School students are using materials donated from local home improvement and gardening stores, as well as time and expertise donated by a local landscape architect.

Three community service clubs and the Associated Student Body at Burbank High pooled their efforts to finance the rest of the venture through fundraisers on and off campus.

"It's just been really good because everyone has put in their two cents," Associated Student Body President Melissa Medina said. "It's worked out and things just flowed smoothly."

The students started their philanthropic effort in November and since then, more than 80 students have participated in helping make the pond become a reality with hands-on help, digging holes and stacking stones, Medina said.

Key Club President Sijin Park and Medina said it took them a while to find a place to focus their efforts, but once they did, the race to put in the turtle pond was on.

"Melissa and I have been planning this whole thing," Park said. "We went to various places, but … a lot of the programs did not have a big project we could do."

Then they found the Burbank Animal Shelter and learned of their overabundance of red-eared slider turtles and their lack of a suitable habitat for the small pets.

More than 30 turtles that have been dropped off at the animal shelter are living with Ken Green, a turtle lover since childhood and a member of the California Turtle and Tortoise Club.

The pond is scheduled to be finished by the end of April and about 20 turtles will be deposited in the water at that time, Medina said.

For now, students from the Key Club, Associated Student Body, Armenian Club and HOPE club of Burbank High are working about five hours a day on Saturdays and Sundays to finish the project.

An original mural will be painted behind the pond on a rounded wall, with a plaque area to honor the project's contributors in another area, Medina said.

The goal is to make the pond both aesthetically pleasing and educational, she added, making the turtles accessible for viewing in a lush area by potential adopters.

"It's going to be very beneficial," said Brenda Castaneda, animal control officer at the shelter.

"Actually, the area they're using was just wasted space, so having something to beautify the area was one of the main reasons for wanting to get the pond.

"Plus, we have nothing here that represents the aquatic animals, like the turtles."

After the pond is finished, Park and Medina plan to either create a new club on campus that focuses on the upkeep of the pond or dedicate it as a special, ongoing project and volunteer opportunity for their clubs.

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