Maria Rapos, Savannah Deaver, Maggie Phipps, PCHS students from Chauncey Barber’s agricultural classes, dig holes to plant the new trees. (photo submitted)

Archived Story

Polk Central students celebrate Arbor Day

Published 3:34pm Thursday, April 7, 2011

Thanks to the generosity of several organizations and individuals, Polk Central students celebrated Arbor Day 2011 in a big way.

During the week of Arbor Day, high school students from Chauncey Barber’s agriculture classes planted eight trees (approximately 2-inch caliper and 500 pounds each) on the Polk Central campus. These trees were purchased with a $500 grant from the North Carolina Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts Auxiliary. John Vining, Polk County Extension Agent, provided technical assistance. Four willow oaks planted along the car line will soon provide shade during hot afternoons in autumn and spring. Two red maples were planted between the gymnasium and main building.

Two trees were donated by King’s Sunset Nursery located in Liberty, S.C. The dogwood and serviceberry were planted in front of the 3-5 building.

Students in fourth grade planted 18 native trees adjacent to the Nature Trail, with instruction provided by Junie Michel, Americorps volunteer with the Foothills Equestrian Nature Center (FENCE). These 2-foot tall seedlings were planted about 10 inches deep and will take a few years to grow to noticeable height. Students put their names on the stakes and plan to monitor their growth in coming years.

Students in fifth grade participated in guided hikes of the Nature Trail. The hikes were led by Pam Torlina, land protection specialist at the Pacolet Area Land Conservancy (PAC), and Christel Walter, PAC volunteer and N.C. environmental educator.

Students used N.C. Department of Forestry tree identification guides to research a variety of trees on the trail. The fifth graders were also the first to see some of the new plant identification signs which were constructed with an $800 grant from Bright Ideas, Rutherford Electric Company‘s school grants program. The sign posts were constructed by Dale Burrow’s high school carpentry classes.

Students in second grade spent several hours on the trail with Kacy Spooner, Americorps volunteer with the Polk County Agricultural Economic Development Office. Students used the new flip-top bench tables as a base to explore the trees on the Nature Trail.

Students in third and fourth grades also learned a bit about forestry from Eric Bayne of Complete Tree Service. He spent the morning teaching students about the uses of trees and telling them tree climbing stories. He distributed “treats from the trees:” 100 percent wood pencils and chocolate.

Finally, all students, PreK through fifth grade, worked with Eric Muecke, N.C. Forester for Urban and Community Forestry. Muecke worked with the upper grades on tree identification. He worked with the lower grades on understanding the value of trees. The informative slide presentation and hands-on activities taught both students and staff about the importance of trees and forests in North Carolina and throughout the world.

Zackery Bayne, Shyla Ruff, Bobby Louis, Samuel Campuzano-Gomez and Matthew Mullis, fourth grade students from Polk Central School, plant new trees. (photo submitted)

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