Nine-year-old Brandon Martinez shovels soil over the newly planted oak tree Monday outside Wilson Elementary School. The tree planting was part of the 2010 Earth Day activities for Fort Benning schools, which will culminate April 15 with a fair at Faith Middle School.

Fourth-graders plant oak

FORT BENNING, Ga. - "We're out here to help a new tree start living," said 9-year-old Spencer Messerick, one of more than two dozen fourth-graders who gathered Monday on the lawn outside Wilson Elementary for an oak tree planting.

This event was the first of several Earth Day activities for Fort Benning schools which will culminate April 15 at the 2010 Earth Day Fair at Faith Middle School.

"It was fun because it was helping a tree," said Spencer, who volunteered to cover the newly planted sapling with soil.

"Trees help produce oxygen because they take in carbon dioxide, and it helps us because we need oxygen to live," he said. "It doesn't look like a tree right now; it just looks like a twig, but in a few years or so, it's going to start growing into a big, giant (oak)."

Nine-year-old Alianna Vargas said she hopes she can visit the tree when it is fully grown.

"It was nice to see a tree being planted," she said. "I like it because we're helping the environment."

Before the planting, children learned about how an oak tree helps animals and the ecosystem by providing fresh air and acorns. Then, they helped dig and refill the hole.

"It's the perfect opportunity for students to think about the environment, how the ecosystem works and the role trees (play) within that system," said Debra Alexander, instructional systems specialist for Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools.

Each grade level has unique activities connecting with a variety of subject areas, she said.

Fourth-graders learned about earth science by planting a tree at each of their schools. Students in kindergarten through second grade participated in green art and writing activities. Guest readers from the Environmental Management Division visited third-grade classrooms, and fifth-graders attended an assembly featuring scientific experiments.

"At Fort Benning, we try to be really good environmental stewards, and the best way to create a good climate of stewardship is to start people young," said post garrison commander COL Thomas Macdonald, who attended the tree planting at Wilson to show support for the event.

"If we can get young kids fired up about the environment, then we stand to have them become good stewards later," he said. "You start small and work big. Little things like this can have a big impact down the road."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16