Fourth Grade Foresters from Ms. Smith’s class at Straughn Elementary School show off their Arbor Day certificates. All SES fourth graders received a tree seedling. | Courtesy photo

Local co-ops donate trees

Published 12:01am Tuesday, May 24, 2011

More than 600 students in Covington, Coffee, Crenshaw and Geneva Counties will be given young trees they can raise as part of an Arbor Day program, thanks to donations by Covington Electric Cooperative and PowerSouth.

National Arbor Day was celebrated April 29 and 630 Fourth Grade Foresters at nine local schools rolled up their sleeves to plant a tree. The goal of Fourth Grade Foresters is to help revitalize Arbor Day in America’s schools. Fourth graders at Opp Elementary School will be receiving 105 trees to take home and plant.

Other schools include Andalusia Elementary School with 125, and Fleeta School with 30, Pleasant Home School with 50, Red Level School with 60, Straughn Elementary School with 90, Kinston School with 40, Brantley School with 45 and Samson Elementary School with 85.

Patti Singleton-Seay of Covington Electric Cooperative who sponsored the trees said, “This gives each fourth grader a personal interest in caring for our environment. We have a vested interest in our communities, and providing the resources necessary to get the Arbor Day message out to our schools is one way we can help.”

Fourth Grade Foresters was created to provide a simple and inexpensive way for local businesses to send the 4th Grade students at an elementary school home with a tree of their own to plant and care for.

Each fourth grader receives an individually packaged 12”-18” evergreen tree seedling. Each package also includes information about Alabama’s Arbor Day, planting and care instructions, and the name of program sponsors.

“This project is made possible because community business people like Covington Electric and PowerSouth cover the cost of each of the individually packaged trees, so that there is no cost to the students, the teachers, the school, or the taxpayer,” Debra Ersch, Cofounder of the Fourth Grade Foresters Project stated.

“It’s a wonderful way to show support for the community, education and the environment.”

The trees are packaged in workshops that employ adults with disabilities through the free rrees and plants project.

Started in February 2004, Frees Trees and Plants obtains unsold plants from growers and nurseries that would otherwise be destroyed each year.

“It’s really exciting for these kids to plant their own tree and as the years pass look at it and be able to say ‘That is my tree and I helped it grow,’” said Emily Smith of PowerSouth. “This is a tradition we hope to continue with all upcoming fourth-graders.”

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