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Digging In To Learn With Young Tree Planters

Fall is the best time to plant trees.  Western Oregon’s steady rain in the coming months help new trees settle in the dirt and gives them a leg up in the summer heat.

Thursday in southeast Portland, more than 400 elementary students helped plant trees in their school yard.  The mud on the soles of their shoes may not score them points on an assessment test.  But Colin Fogarty has this audio post card on what they did learn.

Carl Dawson:  "This is Miss Boyd’s fourth and fifth grade class.  And you guys are planting a western red cedar today?  My name’s Carl Dawson.  I work with Portland Parks and Recreation’s Urban Forestry.  We’re out here doing a school yard planting next to Flavel Park with all 450 elementary school students from Marcus Whitman Elementary School.  So it’s quite a fiasco.  But as you come back year after year, these kids will see these trees grow and really have a connection to the planting."

Nat sound:  shoveling

Eric Flagel: "My name is Eric Flagel and I’m a fourth/fifth blend teacher at Whitman Elementary.  Do you guys know what kind of tree this is?"

Children:  "Uh uh.  Cedar tree!"

Eric Flagel:  "That was my concern."

Carl Dawson:  "This is the state tree of Oregon."

Children:  "It’s a pine.  Conifer.  Liz Fir.  It’s a Douglas Fir."

Carl Dawson:  "Yep, a Douglas Fir."

Nat sound:  pounding

Mike Moore: "They’re putting stakes in so the trees will grow in straight.  I’m Mike Moore and I work at Mount Scott Learning Centers.  I find that the older kids do really well with the younger kids.  So just being out here and have the younger kids and being able to help out and be on the giving side of things, I think makes them feel really good about themselves."  

Dylan Green: "I’m Dylan Green.  I’m 13 years old.   I learned stuff about trees that I did not know before, like a pine cone is a seed.  I did not know that.  And I didn’t know that they could get up to 200 feet.  That’s pretty…pretty insane.  It’ll take a long time, but it’ll get there."

Tricia Barger:  "My name is Tricia Barger.  I’m 11."

Colin Fogarty:  "Did you learn anything about trees?"

Tricia Barger:  "Oh, we learned about how to plant them, like stay out of the way when you try to plant them in the ground because I just got smacked right in the face with one."

Colin Fogarty:  "You OK?"

Tricia Barger:  "Yeah.  Hee."

Carl Dawson:  "It’s almost like they know instxtinctivly what to do.  And behavior issues are just not a problem.  Everyone’s excited about the planting of trees.  And having something that will be here ten years from now or 200 years from now.  It’s definitely not something you can test for.  Just the experience is something that will be with them for at least a day, hopefully for the rest of their life."

Nat sound:  shovel digger the dirt

Colin Fogarty produced that audio post card. 

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