Planting seeds of future |

Planting seeds of future

Local students learn message from free trees

— Seventy tree seedlings were given out to fourth-graders at Soda Creek Elementary School on Thursday as part of the national pilot project, Fourth Grade Foresters USA.

“In ten years, they will grow to about four or five feet, and they can see the significant difference in the size of the trees,” said Stephanie Fairchild, who coordinated the project in Steamboat Springs. “And they can see how they contributed to that.”

In conjunction with Arbor Day and Earth Day, 70,000 seedling trees have been distributed to fourth-graders in 39 states. The founders of the project hope to instill in the children the value of conservation and why it’s important not to litter.

“At that age, they have discovered that children begin to develop a greater understanding of the world around them,” said Debra Ersch, co-founder of Fourth Grade Foresters USA. “They switch from me and my family and my needs, to the greater world out there. We want to engage the child into doing something for the world.”

The trees are collected from nurseries that have not been able to sell them and otherwise would have thrown away the trees, Fairchild said.

“The Forest Service recommended the Colorado blue spruce tree, and people with disabilities package them so that they have a part-time job.”

The students can plant the trees anywhere they want, but the majority of them are encouraged to plant them in their own backyards.

“When they leave for college and come home, they can still see it growing in their yard,” Fairchild said.

Ersch has seen children plant the trees around their city or in their grandmother’s backyard if they did not have their own.

“They learn the value of planting the tree through the actual act itself,” she said. “The purpose is to give the child a tree to plant and care for him or herself.”

– To reach Allison Plean, call 871-4204

or e-mail

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