It's a rare opportunity to leave one's mark on the land – not by building a shopping center or paving a road, but by doing just the opposite.
"I think this is what this land was meant to be," said Andrew Hacker, as he happily toiled in the dirt.
Workers with the Washington Conservation Corps got a head start on this weekend's Make a Difference Day activities by continuing the restoration of Bellingham's Squalicum Creek Park.
"I just feel like everyone should have a part in making this place great and continuing to make it great," said Hacker.
On Tuesday, workers from WCC pulled weeds and planted trees in anticipation of Saturday's annual Make a Difference Day community service event. The work will improve water quality for salmon in a nearby stream.
It's something that would have been unthinkable just 20 years ago.
"It's really incredible to watch it all happen," said worker Lyle Skaar.
It's incredible, because since about 1930 the land those workers have been restoring served time as an airport, a gravel pit, and even a cement plant.
The city of Bellingham bought it and over the past 11 years, the transformation has been underway.
The one-time wasteland is now home to a ball field, a dog park, and soon, a 2.5 acre urban forest.
"Thousands of people have made this possible," said volunteer coordinator Rae Edwards. "Lots of a Make a Difference Days, that's for sure."
For more information on Make a Difference Day events in your area, visit makeadifferenceday.com.