Muse, FL- On Monday morning in Muse, two groups of school children learned about the importance of trees and energetically pitched in, digging small holes to plant the seedling trees at West Glades School (Mrs. Drake's Service Learning Class and Mrs. Wright's Agriculture Class). The event was an Arbor Day celebration, where officials from Florida Forest Service discussed the importance of Arbor Day.
Giving the history of Arbor Day, Florida Forest Service Senior Forester, Calin Ionita said, “It was started by a man named Jay Sterling Morton, who lived in the Midwest at a place where there were no trees. He thought we should have a day to plant trees and help the environment”. Asking the kids, “Why are trees important?” Calin elicited eagerly raised hands. Many of the children mentioned trees are important for air, shade, and to help people breathe, and others said trees are important for lumber and as a habitat for birds and animals.
After Calin finished his presentation, it was time to get down to the dirty work. In several smaller groups, the children clustered around 35 Long Leaf Pine trees. The Florida Forest Service produces over 13 million bareroot pine seedlings, containerized pine seedlings and containerized wiregrass yearly at its Andrews Nursery located in Chiefland, Florida. Laughing and taking turns, the children shoveled out holes for ten seedlings on school property. Twenty-five seedlings were planted in pots by the children. “After you plant all the trees”, Calin explains, “you can watch your seedling trees grow throughout the year and measure their growth”.
Calin ended the day by explaining to the children how to properly care for the trees to prevent disease and infection. “When the tree is first planted, it goes into shock,” Calin states “The tree is not familiar with its new surroundings and where to find water and nutrients.” During the first two growing seasons, your newly planted tree is expending a lot of energy trying to get its roots established in the soil. Especially during the first few summers of your new trees’ life, it will have a difficult time dealing with heat and drought. You can make this easier by providing water and covering the soil with wood-chip mulch.
"The students thoroughly enjoyed getting their hands dirty and contributing to the enhancement of our school's environment”, stated West Glades School Teacher, Crystal Drake. “We would like to extend a huge thank you to Mr. Calin, Mr. Callahan and Mr. Al Brown for all of their help. The Service Learning Class is designed to teach students how to actively be involved in their communities and this event was perfect."
If you have questions about tree identification, tree diseases, pests and insects, ask Florida Senior Forester, Calin Ionita. Calin can also answer your questions about local ordinances regarding burning debris, water quality, and tree cutting and removal.