ELKHART — Students from The Crossing Educational Center will wrap up two days of tree removal today at Bent Oak Golf Course in Elkhart.
The Crossing is a faith-based alternative school program.
The school’s tree removal program is part of a job training program and offers students a chance to get out of the classroom and work while learning various skills, said Cory Martin, director of development for The Crossing.
Organizers expected to remove about 50 trees from the golf course.
Mickee Crisler, 19, a student at The Crossing, was one of about 25 students and 15 staff who worked at the golf course Friday.
He said he’s hopeful that he’ll soon graduate and said teachers at The Crossing are different than what he experienced in the past.
“Most of the teachers aren’t like usual teachers in school. They actually build relationships with students and that helps motivate kids to do stuff like this,” Crisler said.
Students and staff got a boost Friday with the arrival of a truck that was acquired with the help of Gates Chevy World and the Gates Family Foundation.
Dave Ridenour, fleet commercial manager for Gates, said it acquired the heavy duty pickup truck from North Carolina and that it helped cover some of the cost.
The tree program started as a weekend program, but has expanded into weekdays.
Students from the school worked in Henryville, Ind., earlier this year to help clear trees after a tornado destroyed much of the community.
Martin said they are working with the federal government to gain certification that would allow their students to do more of the same work at disaster sites in the future.
The Crossing has 16 campuses in Indiana and works with 24 school districts.
The Elkhart County campus includes approximately 125 students from Elkhart, Nappanee and Goshen.
Martin said the school has an 82 percent retention rate.