Highway cloverleaf foliated Old Mill students plant saplings CENTRAL COUNTY -- Arnold * Broadneck * Severna Park * Crownsville * Millersville

December 03, 1992|By Angela Gambill | Angela Gambill,Staff Writer

They didn't have to be out in the cold, planting prickly trees in muddy holes.

But 60 student environmentalists doggedly placed more than 200 saplings at the cloverleaf of Interstate 97 and Route 100 east yesterday.

About 16 members of the Old Mill Senior High School environmental and service club had recruited other volunteers from the school for the Tree-mendous Maryland Project, directed by the Forestry Department.

Rachael Kiessling, an 11th-grader, had more to say about the dirt she was getting under her fingernails than about the environment, but conceded she'd learned a lot from planting two trees during the project.

The students have studied ways in which plants are necessary for a healthy environment -- providing oxygen, preventing erosion in an area that drains into the Chesapeake Bay, adding color and creating a natural environment for wildlife, said Bill Hill, sponsor of HOPE, the Helping Others and Preserving the Environment club. Mr. Hill also teaches chemistry and zoology at Old Mill.

Wielding trowels and shovels, the students also got a lesson in tree-planting yesterday.

"We learned how to separate the roots and make the dirt level with the hill, which they call making a 'bench,' " said Erin Killian, a sophomore. "Then you take the tags off, see, and you're done!"

The teen-agers planted 4- to 6-foot saplings, lowering flowering crab apple, pin oak, red maple, ash and sycamore into pre-dug holes. Paired into teams, they raced to see who could plant the most trees.

Chris Cutlip, a senior, worked with sophomore Julie Bender to out-plant their competitors. The two planted 12 crab apple trees. Juniors Bonnie Brunstrom and Stacey Brunt also turned in a healthy number, planting eight trees in less than an hour.

The students were setting an example for future Maryland public school seniors, who will be required, beginning in 1997, to put in 75 hours of community service to graduate, Mr. Hill said.

The tree planting was just one way the HOPE club helps the community. Club members do everything from volunteering as dog-walkers with the SPCA to tutoring at local elementary schools. Some volunteer doing physical therapy in hospitals, Mr. Hill said.

Yesterday's activities began at the high school with a lesson on tree planting from the Forestry Department.

The young people then went to the work site, where forestry workers had already dug the holes. There they placed the trees, back-filled and mulched the area.

After an hour of hard work, the volunteers were ready to return to school for a treat of free pizzas and sodas donated by Dominos, Pizza Hut and Basics Food Center.

A group activity was one reason to get involved, said the $H students. "Our whole lunch table signed up," said Ms. Killian. "It gives you something to do after school."

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