Gov. Gary Herbert thanked 250 students from five Utah County high schools for their involvement in a cleanup project that removed 11 tons of trash from land near Lake Mountain on Saturday, May 17.
The area near Lake Mountain has become a popular location for shooting and illegal dumping. Students from American Fork, Lehi, Salem Hills, Maple Mountain and Springville high schools gathered together to clean up the land.
“It’s an honor to come and support these young people,” Herbert said. “I applaud what they’re doing.”
The land, located just west of Utah Lake and south of Saratoga Springs, is part of Utah’s trust lands. The School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration manages these lands to create funds for Utah schools and institutions.
Herbert said it was fitting for high school students to clean up the land because the land is “designed to help school funding.” He said it was nice to see the students taking an interest in cleaning up trust lands to the point where they would sacrifice sleeping in on a Saturday morning.
Matt Niu, student body president at Springville High School, coordinated the project from the student side. Niu said this project was a great opportunity for different high schools to work together for a good cause. “We are constantly so competitive with each other. Why can’t we serve together?”
In an address he gave to the student volunteers, Niu talked about shootings, abuse and violence that are sometimes prevalent in high schools across the country and even in Utah. But he shared his image of a different legacy the students can leave. “We want to show that the high school students of Utah Valley are a force for good,” he said. “United, we can accomplish anything.”
Student body officers from the other schools also said they enjoyed the opportunity to plan and complete this project. “Matt contacted me in January, and we’ve met every month since then,” said Madie Kay, Maple Mountain High School student body president. “It was great to meet all the other student body presidents.”
“I think it’s awesome,” said Kylan Erickson, Salem Hills High School senior class president. “The best part is just getting out and being active.” He said high school student council has a responsibility to serve others and this project is part of that responsibility.
In his address to the students, Gov. Herbert said this year is the eighth year in a row Utah has been leading the nation in volunteerism. He said Utah has been able to do this because of people with the mentality of these service-oriented high school students.
“As you continue to grow and progress, the state will grow and progress with you,” he told the students. “You are the future of Utah, and the future is bright.”