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Elementary students get a lesson in reforestation.

Earth Day in Smithers

April 22, 2016

Smithers, BC--Northwest Community College, Summit Reforestation and PRT Nursery in Smithers partnered this Earth Day to educate elementary students about the importance of planting trees.

“The gathering of eager faces looked at us, the shovels, and the trees expectantly,” says Lori Knorr, NWCC Distributed Learning Support Clerk. “They were the first two classes from Muheim Elementary School in Smithers to come across the field to learn about tree planting.”

“How many of you have been to see the College?” she asked.

All the hands shot into the air.

“Do you know what we do there?”  Lori asked the children.

“You get to learn stuff so you can get a job,” was one of the answers, a great answer for a grade one student.

Lori and Tim Tchida from Summit Reforestation brought four planters to show these students how to plant a tree.

These kids, as well as other elementary students in Smithers, received a tree to plant for Earth Day on April 22. Local Smithers nursery, PRT, donated all of the trees.

“I told the students they are very lucky because we just had a Silviculture course at the Smithers campus where the students at NWCC learned all about replanting trees,” says Lori. “Now the Muheim students learned a bit of what we teach at the College.”

Kieran Ruck, a foreman from Summit, began by thanking everyone and acknowledging that they were on Wetsuwet’en traditional territory.

He then asked if anyone knew why it’s important that we have forests.

“So we can breathe oxygen,” “shelter for wild animals,” “food and berries, water,” were some of the first answers. These were followed by responses about wood and resources.

 “I was pleased to see their primary thought pattern go to the intrinsic values of the forests around us,” says Lori.

Kieran told the group that Summit was going to plant their 500 000 000th tree this season and if they all were spaced out at the standard 2.8 m spacing, they would circle the globe 34 times.

The elementary students were also fascinated by his next fact, that Jordan, one of the other tree planters there, planted over 5000 trees in a single day.

They outlined the process for the students: pick a spot, open the hole, plant a tree and stomp. Repeat every 5.2 seconds.

The kids commented that Jordan must not have stopped for lunch that day.

The students took turns with the shovels. Outfitted with a twinberry branch, they tried out their newly learned skills.

“It wasn’t long before a mini forest of bushes had sprouted in the back of the school field as the kids want to know how well they did with their first attempt,” said Lori. “We wanted them to feel confident to take their tree home and plant it carefully.”

Wrapping up, Lori reflected on the bigger picture. “It is but one tree for each of these kids and one day a year to celebrate Earth Day, but each step we take towards creating what we would like to see for our planet is a step in the right direction.” 

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