Over the wind and commotion of 50 students cleaning trash and debris from the Taos Roc Pit disc golf park, one student shouts, "Look what I found."
Taos Charter School seventh and eighth-grade students made a fun day out of their recent project to clean the disc golf park off Salazar and Chamisa Roads. They were rewarded with pizza and a clean open area for the community to enjoy.
The students collected more than 20 bags of trash Monday (May 21) through the nearly 20-acre open space plot. The Roc Pit is used often by people riding all-terrain vehicles and dumping trash. Community members have gathered together to take back the plot of land owned by the town of Taos.
"People have been riding their four-wheelers here for some time and we're trying to reclaim it," said Councilor Nathaniel Evans. "It's really about keeping open space and reclaiming this land."
Evans teaches at Taos Charter and has been a vocal advocate for the disc golf course for some time. He said he wants to beautify the spot to give youth in Taos one more activity to participate in.
Students from Taos Charter walked two miles from the school to the pit on the corner of Este Es Road as part of the day trip to the site. Walmart and Mayor Dan Barrone supplied drinks and food for the students after the cleanup, which took less than two hours. Students combed all 18 holes of the course and took several truckloads of trash out of the desert course.
"If we want students to care about their community, then they have to have some ownership of it," said Taos Charter Director Jeremy Jones. "I'm really proud of them. They worked really hard."
The Roc Pit was established as a disc golf course in 2010 and has recently gone through some new renovations by Evans as well as others in the community. Over the past few years, the disc golf community has risen to include courses in major and smaller cities across the U.S. According to Disc Golf United, 10 courses can be found in the Taos area, including courses in Taos Ski Valley, Sipapu and Angel Fire.
Disc golf is played like regular golf except instead of striking a ball with a club, the thrower stands at a tee box and tosses a Frisbee-type disc toward a basket. Along the course, the thrower tries to get the disc in the basket with the fewest number of throws possible. Recently, the course in Taos was renovated by community members like Evans and fellow disc golf player Todd Ripp, who has helped in the design of the course and installation of new baskets.
"It took a long time to utilize all this space," Ripp said looking at the students' progress on the land.
Ripp said the course is designed as a beginner course to get new players into the game.
Over the course of several months, Ripp and Evans have worked to clean and update the course and are installing new features in the park. Students agreed to clean the course as part of a day trip and have been playing disc golf in school for gym class.
"I feel like it's good for the environment because littering really isn't helping," said seventh-grader Corrina Harrower. "I think we picked up trash for a good community place."