Trading in pencils and notebooks for shovels and dirty hands, students branched outside of the traditional classroom setting on Wednesday to plant nine new trees for National Arbor Day.
Alongside the City of Turlock Parks, Recreation, and Public Facilities, nearly 100 students in Brown Elementary School’s After School Education and Safety program gathered to plant trees on the school’s campus for the national holiday.
“It teaches them to be good stewards of trees,” said staff services technician Carla McLaughlin. “They learn about the role of trees in our lives and promote tree planting and care.”
“The City has found that by working with the students, they take ownership of the trees and help to prevent vandalism of the young trees,” added McLaughlin.
Although this is the first year that the City has partnered with the ASES program for the annual National Arbor Day Celebration, McLaughlin reported the Turlock has been celebrating the holiday for over 24 years.
“We hold the event in different parks every year and invite the nearest elementary school to join us in planting the trees,” said McLaughlin. “In the future, we plan to continue to work with the Turlock Unified School District and the afterschool programs.”
McLaughlin also revealed that Turlock has also been a Tree City USA for 24 years. To earn this recognition, a city must have a Tree Board or department, a Community Tree Ordinance, a Community Forestry Program with a budget of $2 per capita, and an Arbor Day Observance and Proclamation.
“The city is proud of our urban forest and promotes the value and importance of an urban forest,” said McLaughlin.
A number of special guests from the community attended Wednesday’s event to show their support, including Mayor Gary Soiseth who got kids excited for their tree planting adventure with an official proclamation declaring the day as Arbor Day.
“I just wanted to stress the importance of caring for our community, which includes the planting of trees and taking care of them,” said Soiseth. “These students already know that, but it’s essential for us to reinforce that.”
After learning more about the history of National Arbor Day from assistant supervisor of Parks and Public Facilities Keith Humphres and the best way to plant and care for trees from senior workers of Park and Public Facilities Art Padilla and Wayne Rogers, students were broken up into nine groups to plant four Crepe Myrtles, four Sycamores, and one October Glory throughout the campus.
Although the trees are small now, City staff assured students that they will undoubtedly multiply in size to provide shade and oxygen for years to come.
However, for that day the trees still managed to provide a sense of excitement and accomplishment for students who understood the importance of planting trees not only on their school’s campus, but throughout the world.
“My favorite part was planting the trees itself because I like to get dirty,” said sixth grader Margaret Kirkpatrick. “Plus, these trees produce oxygen which is really important!”
Sixth grader Richelle Moths echoed Kirkpatrick’s comments, reporting that her favorite part of the entire event also was planting the trees.
“Honestly, today was really important because trees are being cut down every single day,” said Moths. “So every Arbor Day we plant some more and balance it out.”