Written by Patty Decker Tuesday, 01 May 2012 14:59
Hillsboro Evening and Noon Lions Club members paid for almost 100 trees that were then given to fourth-grade students at Centre, Hillsboro and Marion elementary schools last week.
The local clubs partnered with Fourth Grade Foresters USA, a project dedicated to helping revitalize Arbor Day in schools, said Sue Funk, president of the evening club.
“We welcomed the chance to promote both Arbor Day (on Friday) and people with disabilities, who package these trees,” Funk said.
Debra Ersch, co-founder of Fourth Grade Foresters Project, said that because of groups like the Hillsboro Lions Clubs, trees can be made available at no cost to the students, teachers, schools or taxpayers.
“It’s a wonderful way to show support for the community, education and the environment,” Ersch said.
The FGF project started in 2007 as a way to reverse the decline of fewer trees planted.
Prior to that, the school Arbor Day tradition was fading away and only a few young people would get a tree to take home and plant, she said.
Maura Wiebe, fourth-grade teacher at Hillsboro Elementary School, said many of her students were taking their tree home.
Other fourth-graders were going to ask principal Evan Yoder if he would allow them to plant trees on HES property, she said.
Rebecca Hofer, fourth-grade teacher at Marion Elementary School, said her students took their individually packaged 12- to 18-inch Norwegian spruce tree home.
“Many (of the students) were excited to plant them,” she said.
Gail Lorson at Centre Elementary School said her students will plant the trees in containers until fall.
“Tampa is in the process of making a new park and they will be needing a row of trees along the edge,” Lorson said.
“We plan to send our kids by bus to Tampa in the fall and plant the tree and continue to help take care of them with students that live in or near Tampa.”
According to Lorson, the hope is for the students to take ownership of the trees and help care for them.
“We want them to be proud of their contribution to the town,” she said.
Norwegian spruce trees were selected for planting because they are a hearty variety and work well in Kansas, Funk said.
“It can grow up to 60 feet high,” she said.
The Norway spruce is also the most disease-resistant spruce, drought tolerant and cold tolerant, she added.
“This is a wonderful project for helping our young people become aware of the environment, and they can plant and care for their tree anywhere they choose,” Funk said.
Lions Club goals
The Lions Club International president set a goal of planting one million trees worldwide. According to Funk, six million trees have been planted.
“Lions Clubs have worked hard to help kids become responsible citizens,” Funk said.
By combining the club’s goal of planting trees and partnering with FGFP, both objectives were accomplished, she added.
During this time of global warming and air pollution, planting trees is more important than ever, Ersch said.
“Trees take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere to help reduce warming and help clean the air we breathe,” she said.
“Planting trees is a simple, inexpensive and easy way to address the problem.”