MORRIS – Imagine a world without trees.
That’s the image local landscaper Becky Thomas posed to a class of Mazon fourth-graders Friday morning.
“It would be bad,” student Maddy Compton answered. “It’s like me, plus trees, equals me being happy. My favorite thing to do with trees is to just lay against the tree.”
Compton and her classmates learned about the importance of trees during a presentation from Jamie and Becky Thomas of Spring Grove Nursery before the fourth-grade class headed outside to plant a small sugar maple tree of their own on the school’s property.
For 11 years, the Thomases have organized an Arbor Day celebration at Mazon Verona Kinsman School – and now, nine other local schools – where the children participate in a tree-planting ceremony.
“The kids really become identified with it,” Becky said. “They can say, ‘That’s my tree. I planted it.’ It’s something they can have some investment and ownership in.”
Before the planting, the Thomases outlined some of the benefits the tree will add to the school in years to come. Among them were eliminating storm water runoff, conserving energy by providing shade and reducing carbon in the atmosphere.
In 20 years, the class’s sugar maple will have reduced more than 97,000 pounds of carbon from the atmosphere and conserved 25,600 kilowatts of energy, Becky told the class.
“You guys today, on Arbor Day, you’re still young just like the tree you’re going to plant today but you will grow just like this tree,” she said. “You’re going to do a really good thing for the environment today, and your tree is going to do a really good thing.”
The tree planted at MVK school Friday was purchased at the MVK Parent’s Club Chili Supper by Ariel and Nancy Bjelland of Mazon, but the family donated the tree back to the school for the Arbor Day celebration.
“I like buying something that’s living and that’s going to stay here,” Nancy said after the planting. “We have a bunch of trees on our property, so we don’t need any, but I love them. So, it’s nice to share that with the kids.”
The Thomases are set to hold similar tree planting ceremonies next week at several local schools. Becky said they usually include nine schools, but were only able to do five this year due to the late spring.
Mazon fourth-grade teacher Debbie Grainger said her students look forward to the event every year.
“The kids always have a lot of fun,” she said. “It’s nice that the Thomas family does this for our school. We have trees all over the school that they have donated.”