For more years than she can remember, Kindergarten teacher Sue Moll has taken her students on an annual field trip to help plant trees on Arbor Day. They’ve planted all over town, including City Beach twice. This year, her students trekked from Muldown Elementary School to the Armory on a blustery, wet spring Arbor Day and met with Dan Cassidy, Fire and Service Forestry Program Manager of the DNRC.
He began the Arbor Day festivities with the five and six year olds by asking, “Why is it important to plant trees?” They replied—
They clean the air.
Branches make shade.
They can be harvested.
Impressed by their answers, he added, “And they also look nice too.” Unfolding a white flag, he explained that Whitefish has been a Tree City USA since 1995, an honor bestowed by the National Arbor Day Foundation and told them he’s hoping to have the flag flying in downtown Whitefish soon.
The Montana Tree City USA program has forty Tree City USA participating communities. There are four standards the community must meet in order to achieve the Tree City USA designation. Those include establishing a tree board or department, writing a Tree Care Ordinance, committing at least two dollars per capita annually to your community forestry program, and celebrating Arbor Day.
The Kindergartners took care of that last requirement by trudging through the mud and learning the best way to plant a tree. Before letting them assist in planting, Dan explained the importance of digging a good hole, making sure there isn’t too much water in it and scoring the roots.
He then asked, “When is the best time to plant a tree?” One of the adults spoke up, “Twenty years ago.” The kids smiled. They he asked, “When is the second best time to plant a tree?” Children’s voices shouted, “Today.”
Each child took a turn shoveling soil around the tree. How interesting it will be for them to return in twenty years as adults and see how that tree has grown.