In honor of Earth Day, Iola-Scandinavia Elementary students helped plant trees on April 22 at Jorgens Park Preserve in Scandinavia.
“The Iola-Scandinavia School District is fortunate to have Jorgens Park Preserve included in its School Forest program,” said Rhonda Fechter, who is the Iola-Scandinavia School Forest coordinator and a member of the Friends of Jorgens Park Preserve Board.
“Planting trees at the Preserve is an Earth Day project the students will remember for many years,” Fechter said. “It is an engaging, hands-on, relevant activity that connects the students with nature and begins a generation of environmental stewards. Working side by side with adults in their communities, the students see first-hand what stewardship is about.”
Despite the cold weather, the students seemed to enjoy the day.
“I wanted to help the earth,” said Addy Lewellyn.
“When someone cuts a tree down and can’t plant another one, we did it for them,” said Michael Kirmse.
With the help of 12 volunteers, the students planted 100 red pine, 100 white spruce and 100 hemlock trees. In addition, 50 Hawthorne, 50 wild plum and 50 hazelnut shrubs were planted.
“It great to get these young school children out to experience planting a tree and understand how trees are an important part of our environment,” said Dave Stoiber, who serves on the park’s board of directors.
“We need to continue this type of activity with our youth so they learn to understand and respect our environment,” Stoiber said. “These school children will be the next generation who will be making important decisions on conserving and managing our natural resources.”
Jorgens Park Preserve was registered on March 26, 2013, as a school forest in the Wisconsin Community Forest Program for the Iola-Scandinavia School District.
“Because Jorgens is a designated school forest, the trees were free,” said Fechter. “They are provided by Griffith Nursery through the Wisconsin State Nursery Program.”
Friends of Jorgens Park members and the I-S School Forest Committee created a plan for the preserve which also included a shelter, walking trails and a dedication honoring Dora and Carsten Jorgens for their contribution.
According to Fechter, the I-S School Forest members applied for and received a $3,905.00 Wisconsin Environmental Education Board (WEEB) grant.
“The grant funds purchased supplies for building the picnic tables at Jorgens Park Preserve and educational supplies for environmental and science lessons conducted at the school forests,” she said.