RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY
PDT Staff Writer
WHEELERSBURG — Students from Notre Dame Elementary took a special field trip Friday to plant trees in Wheelersburg for Earth Day.
Since 1993, second-grade teacher Wanda Dengel has been teaching her children the importance of Earth Day (April 22) by taking them outside to plant trees of their own. She said the project teaches children to respect and take care of our environment.
“Our first project we planted willows on the banks of a stream to keep the soil from eroding. Also, the year that we had the ice storm, that year children planted trees to replace the trees that had been downed by the ice storm. We have planted trees as a wind breaker. We have planted trees for beautification; we did that for the city down by the stadium and river area. We have planted trees wherever trees have been cut down as a habitat for the animals there,” Dengel said.
The Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) donated 25 Canadian hemlock evergreen trees to plant on Patriot Ridge Drive in Wheelersburg this year. Several, unfortunately, have already met their premature demise in a tragic lawn mower accident. The others were planted along the fence-line at the home of Reshma Kataria, who volunteered her property to the class.
“These should grow to a really nice size. Probably by the time they graduate high school, they should be some really nice trees,” said Kate Sowards of SWCD.
Holes were pre-dug and students were given a tiny sapling to place inside and cover with soil.
The homeowner’s daughter, Serena Kataria, is a student in Dengel’s second-grade class at Notre Dame. Her mother said Serena would have a bit of extra homework on this school project.
“She’s going to be watering the plants every day this summer. She’ll be dragging the hose all the way to the sides of the fences to do this,” she said.
The SWCD also gave each student an Eastern white pine seedling to take home. Sowards said it’s important to teach children the value of nature and conservation.
“I think a lot of times we have a disassociation with nature now. I think we’re losing connection. Someone told me recently that years ago a person wouldn’t have called an oak tree a pine tree any more than we would call a vacuum cleaner a toaster,” she said.
Dengel said conservation has always been a part of her classroom, where students recycle used papers and plastics.
“We need to understand that we do impact future generations. If we don’t like what’s happening now, we have to do something to turn that around,” she said.
Earth Day began in 1970 with Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, who was reportedly upset about a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, Calif. Hoping to engage the anti-war student activists, this week was initially chosen so it would not interfere with college exams or spring break. Nelson received the Presidential Medal of Honor in 1995 for creating Earth Day.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 235, or email@example.com.