Packers give back while building chemistry

Published 7:50 pm Friday, August 26, 2022

The Austin boys soccer team has cemented itself as one of the top programs in the area in recent years, but the Packers impact goes far beyond the conference titles and state appearances they’ve racked up.

The Packers have also made the Hormel Nature Center a better place to visit. On the eve of its season opener, the Packers were digging out buckthorn and other invasive species as they were busy clearing out the more overrun parts of the Nature Center.

It’s an activity that the team has done since 2009, with the exception of the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The first year we did it, I didn’t even know what buckthorn was,” Levisen said. “We had somebody in the community say that they wanted to make a donation for us to come out here. After awhile we said that we don’t need a donation, this is something that we should do.”

Kara Page, a naturalist intern at the Nature Center, who was working with the team on Friday morning, said their work is very appreciated and it is very noticeable when they clear out all of the extra brush.

“They’ve made a lot of progress and their work has helped us a lot,” Page said. “Sometimes the areas they have cleared out have had flowers grow and people come in and take photos. The soccer team has had a huge impact for us.”

Levisen sees the cleaning project as an opportunity for his players to develop good work habits, while also giving back to the community. He lets them do the brunt of the work, but he is always hovering to make sure they are staying on task.

“As high school boys they do need those reminders,” Levisen said. “It helps them build a good work ethic. They get a good pile, but they also get distracted sometimes. They also want to grab the big ones, but if we just grab the big ones, we miss out on the little ones that can become the big ones. It helps us work on being thorough.”