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City, students branch out to honor Arbor Day
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Turlock City staff show ag students from Pitman and Turlock high schools how to properly plant trees at Donnelly Park on Friday morning as part of the Citys 22nd Annual Arbor Day Celebration. - photo by BROOKE BORBA / The Journal

Where would Turlock be without trees? According to the City of Turlock’s Parks and Recreation Department, the answer is a desolate wasteland. Trees control climate changes, preserve warmth, and supply two of life’s greatest necessities, food and oxygen.

In honor of National Arbor Day, the City of Turlock planted trees at a local park to maintain a green presence and uphold its 22-year designation as a “Tree City USA.”

On Friday morning, the Parks and Recreation Department partnered with Pitman and Turlock high schools to plant 30 trees at Donnelly Park.

Roughly 50 students in agriculture and conservation programs were taught the value of trees by city maintenance staff and members of the Parks and Recreation Department during a small ceremonial meeting. The students then got a hands-on lesson on how to successfully plant an assortment of tree varieties.

“I think the urban forest we have in Turlock is special,” said Parks and Recreation Division manager Allison Van Guilder. “Taking a step to specifically recognize our urban forest brings attention and encourages others to plant more trees. It is a positive aspect for our community to have.”

Parks and Recreation Supervisor Eric Schulze, Staff Services Technician Carla McLaughlin, and Van Guilder led the efforts to publicize Arbor Day as a national holiday in Turlock.

Mayor John Lazar was also present to read a proclamation, along with Councilmember Forest White, City Manager Roy Wasden, Interim Assistant Manager Ron Reid, City Attorney Phaedra Norton, and Municipal Services Director Dan Madden.

 “We are very excited to be out here today,” said Van Guilder. “This year is our 141st year of Arbor Day and the 22nd Annual Tree City USA celebration. We appreciate all the students who came out here with us to maintain the grounds and keep our community in great health.”

According to Wayne York, nearly 1,000 trees are currently covering the 20 acre plot at Donnelly Park. As of Friday, 30 more were added, ranging from Red Woods to Red Maples and Chinese Pistache to Tallow trees.

“This is a valuable approach to teach students and the public about Arbor Day,” said Mayor Lazar. “Trees are a source of joy and spiritual renewal. I urge all our citizens to support Arbor Day and promote the well being of trees.”

Not all communities can achieve Tree City USA status, and must meet four core standards of urban forestry.

“You must apply and go through an application process and maintain a municipal ordinance, spend at least $2 per capita on tree care, perform a proclamation, and have a celebration,” said McLaughlin.

Shortly following the ceremony, Mayor Lazar was presented with the 22nd Annual Tree City USA flag and a framed photograph recognizing last year’s efforts.

Lazar requested that Turlock and Pitman high schools each get the opportunity to fly the flag for a full week on both campuses as a ‘thank you’ for their tree planting services.