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Students trade in pencils for shovels in celebration of Arbor Day
City of Turlock's Cody Albertti supervises as students from Osborn's after school program dig a hole to plant 1 of 10 Deodar Cedar trees on campus Wednesday in honor of Arbor Day. - photo by CANDY PADILLA/The Journal

Recess at Osborn Two-Way Immersion Academy will be much shadier in years to come, thanks to the hard work of the school’s students who planted ten new trees along the campus’ border in celebration of National Arbor Day.


With some help from the City of Turlock Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities department, students in the Osborn After School Education and Safety Program dug into the tough ground near their playground’s fence, forming ten perfectly-excavated trenches for the group of Deodar Cedar trees that were planted Wednesday afternoon.


“We want children in Turlock to not only help us replenish the urban forest, but also become stewards of the city’s trees,” said Parks Director Allison Van Guilder. “We’re trying to instill the love of trees in our youngest citizens.”


Turlock has been a Tree City USA since 1991, and in order to gain this recognition a town 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 has partnered with the ASES program for the annual National Arbor Day Celebration since 2015, but for nearly 30 years has commemorated the holiday by inviting an elementary campus to join them in planting trees.


“Years from now, kids will come back and see if their old campus is still standing, along with the trees they planted when they were students here,” said Vice Mayor Bill DeHart, who filled in for Mayor Gary Soiseth at the tree-planting ceremony. “It gives them a sense of ownership, which is a big deal.”


The Osborn students were taught the importance of proper tree care, and received a brief history lesson about National Arbor Day and how it began. The real fun began, however, when they got their hands dirty and planted trees that would provide both shade and oxygen at the school for years to come.


“Planting trees today is important because it can provide us with the experience for later in life if we ever want to plant a tree, so it’s good to know how to do it,” said fifth-grader Lilyanna Manso. “Trees make a big impact on our lives. They produce our oxygen, and they make our town prettier.”


Manso said she hopes to come back to Osborn one day, long after she is a student, to show her family the Deodar Cedar (aptly named “Dory”) that she and her classmates planted in celebration of National Arbor Day.