The Waynesboro Department of Parks and Recreation hosts an annual Arbor Day program at Ridgeview Park for the first graders at Westwood Hills Elementary. The first grade class, about seventy students in all, come out for the afternoon to learn a bit about trees, their function and their contributions. In order to keep the kids excited with a variety of activities, Parks and Recreation enlisted the help of a local tree company, Williams Brothers’ Lawn and Tree Service and the Department of Forestry. Despite the weather, the students, teachers, and other onlookers all enjoyed themselves and walked away knowing a little bit more about trees.
The day began with the planting of the Arbor Day Tree. A beautiful European Hornbeam was planted. During the planting, the general characteristics of this tree species were discussed hinting at the ‘right tree, right location’ concept. Kids interacted with Parks and Recreation staff by helping shovel dirt into the hole and answering general questions about tree structure and the functions of its parts.
For the rest of the afternoon the students were divided up into four groups to rotate between 15 minute programs led by Parks and Recreation and Williams Brothers’ Tree and Lawn Service and the Department of Forestry. The Williams Brothers’ brought their tree climbing gear and showed the little ones how they do it and how they do it safely. The Department of Forestry’s Patti Nylander talked to the children about the importance of trees and how to plant the sapling each child received. Parks and Recreation had the most fun of all with the kids making Sticky Pinecone Birdfeeders. Kids got messy as they learned about how birds and other animals rely on trees for food and shelter. The kids also had time to express their creativity with “Trees Are Good” coloring and activities books.
The European Hornbeam ‘Frans Fontaine’ grows to a height of 40 feet but maintains a narrow columnar shape and typically does not exceed 20 feet in width. During the summer season the leaves are green but turn gold in the fall. It has smooth, grey bark that has a muscular look.