COMMENT: Important educational walk among the trees | Opinion
Editor’s Note: This is one in an ongoing series of guest opinions on promoting environmental stewardship with an appreciation for our environment and the well-being of future generations. The series is coordinated by ACES, the Alliance of Climate and Environmental Stewards.
Actively involving students in an environmental project is rewarding on several levels.
One example is the Indian Hill Reservoir Tree Walk in West Newbury, which was created by Newburyport High School students Jackson Darling and Nicolas Forestell, interns for Maple Crest Farms.
With my guidance, the two students identified and named 16 trees around the Indian Hill Reservoir Road. Although the Indian Hill Reservoir is located in West Newbury, it is owned and operated by Newburyport.
Nicolas and Jackson researched and identified each of the trees, then developed educational plaques for each of the tree species, which included the English and Latin names of the trees, a picture of the leaf or needle, and an account. informative about the history of the tree, its impact on the environment and its use in our lives.
For example, the article on a long-haired hickory (Carya ovata) stated that “the wood is famous for its strong but flexible qualities and is used to make cart wheels, tool handles and sports equipment. Salted and sweet nuts are also the best of all hickory trees and were widely used by Native Americans.
The description of a black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) indicates that it was used to build the first houses in Jamestown and American ships during the Battle of Plattsburg Bay during the War of 1812. The durable wood is said to have helped ships hold on. against British guns – helping the Americans win the battle.
In another tree description, the article on the trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides) indicates that it is the most extensive tree in North America. It reproduces by cloning and one clone in Utah is over 80,000 years old and covers 100 acres.
These are just a few of the research and articles that Jackson and Nicolas have created. Even the name of the project, Indian Hill Reservoir Tree Walk, was suggested by Nicolas.
Their work is most impressive and relevant to the environment. In all my years of teaching observing student work, these two students are at the top of the list! They even used the NHS school colors, crimson and old gold, for the panel borders.
We were also fortunate to have Coastal SpeedPro Imaging, a sign company in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, who generously volunteered to produce the signs for free. The panels are printed on an eighth-inch thick aluminum composite material with a PVC plastic core.
Jackson and Nicolas’ stewardship work reinforces a critical message about the importance of trees in our world. In fact, trees are sometimes called the lungs of the Earth because they absorb pollutants through their leaves.
Trees contribute to our environment by providing the oxygen we need to live, improving air quality, improving climate, conserving water, preserving soil and supporting wildlife. Without trees, we wouldn’t be here.
If you have not yet hiked the Indian Hill Reservoir Tree Walk, we encourage you to do so and take advantage of the knowledge gained from the signage. There is a parking lot just off the reservoir causeway on Moulton Street.
ACES wants this project to be a model for others, which will make more citizens and visitors aware of the importance of trees. Our young people are ready for the next project.
This column was coordinated by Caleb Bradshaw, member of the ACES Youth Corps. To share comments or questions, email [email protected] To learn more about ACES, visit www.aces-alliance.org.
John Elwell owns Maple Crest Farm in West Newbury. He can be contacted at [email protected]