Angela Panowicz, a fifth-grader at Magnolia Elementary School, wantsto leave her mark on the world.
So the 10-year-old planted a tree.
Angela was one of 485 school students who took part in one of thelargest tree-planting projects ever in the county as 500 seedlings and 12 young shade trees were planted at Robert Copenhaver Park in Joppatowne last week.
The trees, donated by the Harford Forest Conservancy Board, were planted on Wednesday and Thursday along the banks of the Foster Branch, a stream that flows through the park near Trimble Road and into the Gunpowder River.
"It's fun and it helps our environment," Angela said. "When we get older, we're going to be the ones who can come back and show what we did."
Students from Riverside Elementary, Magnolia Elementary, Magnolia Middle and Joppatowne High schools participated in the work. The schools are near the park.
Students planted dogwood, alder and red osier seedlings, as well as weeping willows and sugar maples. Those trees will stabilize the banks of Foster Branch. The youths also sowed Black-Eyed Susan seeds around a pond at the 24-acre park.
Areas of the banks are caving into the stream and the pond. The eroding soil is choking aquatic life.
But the roots of the trees and the flowers will help secure the banks, keeping soil from running into the stream and pond after rain storms, said Helen Richick, an organizer.
The tree-planting program ispart of the Foster Branch Watershed Improvement Project, a year-round citizens effort to protect an 800-acre area of the county, from Abingdon to Joppatowne.
In one of the project's programs, students from Joppatowne High School's environment club regularly visit Copenhaver Park to monitor the health of the stream's aquatic life.
The county forestry board is sponsoring another tree-planting effort at Harford Day School in Bel Air, where students will plant 250 seedlings on April 21 to start a grove of dogwoods on the school grounds.
Richick said the planting programs are aimed at sparking interest in protecting the environment among youths, so they can maintain that interest as adults.
"They're learning, and this is an experience they'll never forget," Richick said. "They're helping to protect their own watershed."
On each day of the project, students were divided intotwo groups. One planted trees and another formed "litter patrols" topick up trash throughout the park. The groups switched duties periodically.
Young Angela teamed up with fifth-grade classmate Brian Osborne to plant an Alder seedling.
Brian, 12, used a hand shovel tobreak through to the soil as Angela cleared away soil with her handsand a spoon. As they were digging, they found an earth worm crawlingthrough the soil.
"I think we're in his home," Angela said to Brian. Brian picked up the worm and moved him out of the hole to make way for the two-foot-high seedling.
Once planted, Angela and Brian covered its roots with soil, watered it and spread mulch around its base.
Lacy O'Connor and Valerie Lease, fifth-graders at Magnolia Elementary, followed a similar routine for their dogwood seedling.
Lacy, a 10-year-old who lives in the Harford Square neighborhood, said she regularly comes to Copenhaver park. Now, she looks forward to watching the tree's growth.
"I'll probably be back every summer to look at it," she said.
BY: Alan J. Craver