Young urban foresters do their part to clean up Chesapeake Bay

April 18, 2012|By CALEB CALHOUN |
  • Aaron Cook, a watershed forester for the Forest Service of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, shows Salem Avenue Elementary School fourth-graders how to plant trees. They planted 10 trees on the school grounds Wednesday to help reduce polution in the Chesapeake Bay.
By Yvette May/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — Rain did not stop the fourth-graders at Salem Avenue Elementary School in Hagerstown from doing their part to keep the Chesapeake Bay alive on Wednesday. In fact, it might have helped them.

“We are planting trees for less erosion so the sediments don’t move to waterfalls, rivers or lakes that travel to the Chesapeake Bay,” said Katlin Salcutan, a 10-year-old fourth-grader from Hagerstown. “When you stop erosion, the Chesapeake Bay will be clean.”

The nearly 100 fourth-grade students at the school went outside Wednesday morning and planted 10 trees on the school’s property along the back of the  playground.

The goal was to cut down on runoff that gets into parts of the bay’s watershed, the students said.

“We can help the Chesapeake Bay not be all dirty,” said Jaron Pearson, 10, of Hagerstown. “Planting trees can help keep the bay alive.”

The students’ exhibition this year — which will be held on May 18 to showcase what they learned — centered around helping the bay.

The trees they planted were flowering dogwood, northern red oak, red maple, serviceberry, redbud and willow oak. All of the trees are native to Maryland, according to Tricia Pickens, one of the fourth-grade teachers at the school.

“Even though we’re only planting 10 trees, we’re hoping these little parts will be contagious to other schools and our schools,” Pickens said. “Hopefully, we’ll plant 10 more trees the next year and then the following year, until eventually the urban forest area catches up onto our school property.”

Pickens, along with fellow fourth-grade teachers Tracy Kloos, Molly McManus, Tony McDonald and Kim Newcomer, helped to organize the event.

She said that some of the trees will grow to be 80 feet, and she hopes the students will have something to show people in the future.

“I’m hoping that eventually that they’ll be able to come back in 10 to 20 years and show their families and friends, and children and grandchildren what they did,” she said. “We’re hoping that this creates something that the kids can be proud of for many years to come.”

The funding for the trees came from the Maryland Urban and Community Forestry Committee, a subcommittee of the Maryland Association of Forest Conservancy and District Boards.

MUFCF is a volunteer group of citizens, professionals, and government officials who are interested in protecting and enhancing Maryland’s forest ecosystems.

Aaron Cook, a watershed forester for the Forest Service of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, helped the students by planting the first tree, showing them what to do and how to do it.

“The kids are so hands-on, cooperative and willing to learn,” Cook said. “I’m trying to get the importance of the environmental movement into the school and the children’s minds.”

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