Planting aims to help school, studies bloom

May 15, 1994|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Sun Staff Writer

You could say that Beth Sullivan was working on a small legacy as she dug a hole yesterday morning to plant a tree behind Mechanicsville Elementary School.

The 11-year-old fifth-grader from Finksburg will have moved on to middle school when Mechanicsville students -- who have been in temporary quarters while their school is renovated -- return next fall.

She said she considered herself lucky to represent the fifth grade in the group of about 20 children and adults who planted trees and shrubs along a path behind the school.

The path is to lead to a nature trail that will wind through woods at the rear of the school property.

"I wanted to see the new school and how it was doing, and I just wanted to be able to say, 'I planted those trees,' " Beth said.

A $900 state grant from the Chesapeake Bay School Reforestation Project financed the planting, supplemented by donations of mulch and shrubs from local businesses.

The school reforestation project is a cooperative effort of county forestry boards and the Department of Natural Resources' Forest Service to educate children about the environmental and economic benefits of trees, said county forester Donna Baker.

The project took root at Mechanicsville Elementary School, thanks to Kimberly Motsek, vice president of the Carroll County Forest Conservancy District Board.

Her husband, Wayne, describes her as so enthusiastic about greenery that "she wanted a Rototiller for a wedding present -- and she got one."

Ms. Motsek said the Mechanicsville school was a good candidate for the grant this year because of the renovation.

As the mother of 2-year-old David, a prospective student at the school, she will be keeping an eye on the trees and shrubs and remain involved as the nature trail takes shape during the next school year.

Neil Ridgely, county program manager for landscaping and forest conservation, selected native shrubs and trees that would attract birds and insects for the children's environmental studies.

But project organizers modified Mr. Ridgely's list when they learned of a utility right of way over part of the area that had been planned for planting. A sampling from the final list: magnolia, bayberry, dogwood, redbud, viburnum and a serviceberry tree, the fruit of which tastes like blueberries, Mr. Ridgely said.

The nature trail can help students understand how an action taken in Carroll County can affect the bay, said Ronda Robinson, a third-grade teacher who volunteered to work with Ms. Motsek on the project.

"We have to be aware that Carroll County is more than just a little pocket of the world," she said.

Miss Robinson said classes will use the trail in a variety of studies, from kindergarten students looking for leaves or identifying "things that are green" to second-graders learning about insects to third-graders focusing on plants and ecology.

The project's serious purpose didn't deter the planters from having fun.

Jeffrey Mansfield, 6, a first-grader from Finksburg, said throwing rocks into the woods to clear the planting area was better than watching Saturday morning cartoons on TV.

Kelly Morgan, 8, a third-grader from Louisville, found a caterpillar and gave it a walking tour of her shirt.

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