Every spring, the nursery receives an order for Arbor Day seedlings from Greenwood Elementary.
Nothing unusual there since the reforestation program provides more than 35,000 free seedlings to 4th-grade classrooms throughout Wisconsin every spring. What caught our attention about this order is that each year it included an additional request: a single hardwood seedling. We caught up with the local DNR Forester, Chris Schmitz stationed in Neillsville, to ask about this unique outreach project in Clark County.
Reforestation Staff (RS): When did you begin working with the elementary school and how did it come to pass that you plant a single tree every year?
Chris Schmitz (CS): I started in 2003, the year my oldest was in kindergarten. Fall Creek did something like this and I liked the idea. I contacted the teacher at that time and started doing it. Kids definitely like doing it. We go through a little planting exercise with the kids and plant about 100 additional trees out there each spring too.
RS: Where do you plant the seedlings?
CS: They are planted in the outdoor classroom right next to the school.
RS: How have the seedlings fared over the years? Which one is doing the best?
CS: Some are doing really well, like the first one I planted and others have been mowed over a few times and replanted. The white oak seems to be doing really well. The red oaks for some reason always seem to be the ones that get mowed over. I have tried mulching the trees and even putting stakes by them, but the mowing crew would mow right over them.
RS: Are these considered a “class” tree?
CS: Yes they are. The shop class is planning to create year signs for them.
Congratulations to Chris and the students at Greenwood Elementary for creating an exciting learning experience and a lasting tribute.
By Jeremiah Auer, firstname.lastname@example.org, (715) 424-3700