Students touch the future by planting trees


Staff reporter


WILMINGTON — The weather might have forced them inside, but the third, fourth and fifth grades still managed to celebrate Arbor Day at St. Anthony of Padua School on April 29.

Students from those three classes, along with some young visitors from Mom’s House, learned about the importance of trees from visitors representing the city of Wilmington, the Delaware Center for Horticulture, the Delaware Forest Service and local tree service and landscaper Kerns Bros.

The students were scheduled to meet across the street at Father Tucker Park, where a tree would have been planted, but they headed to the school gymnasium instead of being outside in cool temperatures and the threat of rain. There, they heard from Ashley Peebles of the Delaware Forest Service and Jen Bruhler of the Delaware Center for Horticulture.

Peebles said trees are important for a number of reasons, not the least of which is food. She listed  foods that come from trees, including chocolate, as the students indicated with a thumbs up or down whether they liked that food. Chocolate got a big thumbs up, while some fruits were not as popular. Coffee, the last item, was a hit with the adults in the room.

Peebles also mentioned one other product of trees that humans should appreciate. “Trees give us nice, fresh oxygen to breathe. And we can thank all of our trees up here in the city of Wilmington for all of the things they give us.”

A St. Anthony’s student covers the roots of a newly planted tree outside St. Anthony of Padua School in Wilmington. The school celebrated Arbor Day on Tuesday with a presentation about the importance of trees. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

This is the 21st year that Wilmington has been part of the “Tree City USA” program, a national effort that recognizes cities that “treasure their trees and work hard to keep them safe,” Peebles said.

Bruhler encouraged the students to think about what they could do to help trees and the environment.

Arbor Day “allows us to think about the future, and it helps us take care of our earth and our planet and celebrate that,” she said.

After the initial presentation, the students headed to one of three stations: education, tree care or tree planting. Mandy Tolino, representing the city of Wilmington, explained the different parts of a tree – roots, leaves and bark – and why they are important. The students had the opportunity to inspect cross sections of tree trunks, also known as “tree cookies,” to see, among other things, how to determine its age.

“We can get an estimate of how old a tree is by counting the rings,” Tolino told the students.

She led the students outside to show them where a tree would be planted outside the gymnasium. With a teacher holding the tree in place, several students took turns shoveling soil into the hole that had been dug. The Delaware Center for Horticulture will plant six more trees at Father Tucker Park. That was postponed from Tuesday because of the weather.

Back inside the gym, two employees from Kerns Bros. explained how they cut or trim trees for safety or other reasons. Their tools include a ladder, climbing gear, rope, a slingshot (to place rope over branches too high to reach by throwing), a safety saddle and hand saw.

While one person explained how they do their work, another Kerns Bros. employee, dressed in his work gear, used a basketball goal mounted to a wall as a pretend tree. He dangled in his saddle and showed how he uses his hand saw and other equipment.

Over at the last station, Peebles talked about the need to plant and sometimes remove trees.

“Luckily for us, trees are what we call a renewable resource,” she told the students.

Peebles asked the students to think of all the items in their classrooms and homes that come from trees. There are desks, books, pencils, cardboard cereal boxes and much, much more. It’s important that we manage our resources carefully, she said.

“We should all be doing our best to reduce, reuse and what’s that last one?” she asked. “Right, recycle.”