Lehighton students plant trees for Arbor Day
A group of Lehighton Area Middle School students help plant this flowering crab apple tree during Arbor Day 2019 activities at the school’s outdoor Environmental Center Thursday morning. For a video, visit www.tnonline.com. TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS
Seventh-grader Jackson Zacharias lays dirt down at this flowering crab apple tree.
Those who believe that today’s kids don’t possess workmanlike attributes may have to quash that line of thought.
One look at the students who participated in Lehighton’s Arbor Day 2019 event showed they aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty.
Under the direction of Life Science teacher Joe Yescavage, the event was held Thursday at the middle school’s outdoor Environmental Center.
It was noted that the Lehighton Shade Tree Commission again partnered with the middle school, an arrangement that’s been in place for more than 15 years.
Borough Mayor Clark Ritter read the traditional Arbor Day Proclamation with assistance from seventh-graders Owen Serfass, Adam Sebelin and Reese Balk.
Outside the Environmental Center, Yescavage said the students performed some ceremonial planting to help out the shade tree commission.
“The kids are learning about some of the past trees that we planted during Arbor Day programs,” Yescavage said.
“They’ll learn about 15 trees; just what they’re for, some of the purposes they’re used for in industries, fruits that they may produce, so they’ll bring that knowledge home.”
Yescavage said the students were scheduled later in the day to vote on a poster contest for Arbor Day.
“The kids worked on posters for the last couple of weeks,” he said. “They’re displaying them, and the top three finishers are going to win some Rita’s gift certificates.”
Four trees — a flowering crab apple, mountain laurel, the holly and an arborvitae — were planted, which Yescavage said brings the total to almost 30 that have been planted at the outdoor Environmental Center.
Wes Keller, forest fire specialist supervisor at the DCNR Bureau of Forestry, recognized the borough with the designation of Tree City USA for the 26th consecutive year.
Others who helped out were Nick D’Amico, a forester from PPL Electric Utilities; and Mike Heffelfinger, of the DCNR Bureau of Forestry.
Together, they provided hands-on experience with the students on proper planting techniques for the trees and shrubs that were planted; shared the importance of making sure the right tree is planted at the right location; and that large specimen trees are not planted too close to a house or under power lines.
Seventh-grader Maggie Pagotto said she gained more knowledge on the significance of trees.
“I learned that trees are important to the earth,” Maggie said.
“We just need to keep planting trees because they’re healthy for our environment.”
Fellow seventh-grader Gabriella Brown said the students enjoyed the program.
“We like that we get to dig and plant the trees,” Gabriella said.
“We get to teach other kids about how the trees help our environment, and how many kinds of trees there are.”
Another tradition that continued was all students received free seedlings, compliments of PPL Electric Utilities.
Boy Scout Troop 82 and Girl Scout Ambassador Troop 3583 once again helped bag the seedlings that were distributed to all the students at the event.
Mark Hoffman, chairman of the shade tree commission, said PPL Electric Utilities continues to donate the money for the seedlings and trees planted on Arbor Day to the shade tree commission.
“It’s a matter of bringing this to the students to bring them out of the classroom,” Hoffman said.
“I just continue to be so impressed; these are kids that are engaged, wanting to get their hands dirty.”