Tree City USA Millersburg plants good ideas in kids

Tree City USA Millersburg plants good ideas in kids
Dave Mast

Braxton Sinnett, left, Londyn Hoover and Troy Porter were honored as the overall winners of the drawing contest among Millersburg Elementary’s first-graders for the annual Tree City USA Millersburg Arbor Day celebration.


Tree City USA Millersburg members have been making the community greener one tree at a time. They visited Millersburg Elementary on April 26 to chat with all of the school’s first-graders about the important role trees play in the environment and in the process handed out saplings to each of the students to take home and plant in their own back yards or around the house.

This annual event also includes a coloring contest amongst the three first-grade classes, which are invited to create and color a picture that epitomizes the importance of planting trees and keeping the world green.

At the event that took place in the school’s cafeteria, the winners of the Millersburg first-grade Tree City conservation drawing contest were honored for their effort, and Braxton Sinnett, Londyn Hoover and Troy Porter were honored as the overall winners of the contest.

This event was slated to take place down the street toward the downtown area in front of the Millersburg Mennonite Church, where the kids were going to help finish the planting of a new tree, but ugly weather and rain forced the proceedings inside, where it wasn’t quite as exciting as being out in the fresh air planting a tree, but it still gave the members a chance to share with the students the role Tree City USA plays and the ways they have helped beautify the area around Millersburg through the cutting down of old trees and planting of new ones.

Tree City USA Millersburg board member Kim Kellogg of Grasshopper Property Maintenance talked at length to the children about the importance of trees. He told the children the tree that was planted on their behalf at the church and the saplings they will plant at their homes will someday be something they can share with their children and grandchildren.

“In about 40 or 50 years, you will be able to take your grandkids to see that tree and say, ‘When I was in first grade, we helped plant that tree at Millersburg Mennonite Church,’ or you can take them by the tree you planted and say, ‘I planted this tree when I was in first grade,’” Kellogg said.

Kellogg then explored the educational side of planting trees as they talked to the children about the many roles trees play in the world today. From creating oxygen and absorbing water, to preventing soil run-off and providing shade, to providing shelter and food for birds and animals, trees are critical in many ways, a message the committee hoped to ingrain in the minds of the students.

Brent Schrock, an arborist with Holmes-Wayne Electric, then spoke about the role he plays in making sure trees are safely trimmed and kept away from power lines. He said he also takes a great deal of time to make sure trees are healthy.

“Our trees provide a great habitat for our birds and animals, but they need to be planted in the right place where they can grow and they aren’t near power lines,” Schrock said.

Tree City USA Millersburg President Mike McDowell then took the floor and talked more in-depth about the many things Tree City does in the Millersburg area.

Over the past several years, the group has cut down and planted dozens of trees that have helped beautify the area.

“One of the main things we do is to take care of the trees in our village to help make it beautiful,” McDowell said to the children. “We don’t want a village that is filled with just sidewalks, parking lots, cement and concrete. We also want some trees, and we want the town to look green. Our group is really dedicated to planting trees in Millersburg to make it look nicer.”

Tree City Millersburg has been in existence for four years, and in that span they have planted more than 100 trees in the village. The Village of Millersburg also has invested in helping to remove dead and dangerous trees, making it a joint effort.

Kellogg said there are more than 60 million street trees in villages and cities throughout America, so they are doing their best to share in the responsibility to plant the right type of trees in the right places where they can grow and prosper.

Village administrator Nate Troyer said the work Tree City has done in Millersburg has definitely made an impact in beautifying the village.

“Their effort has been a real positive for the village to help beautify the streets. Plus the obvious benefits of trees providing better air quality, ground quality, shade and other environmental benefits have all been great for our village,” Troyer said.

While Tree City could easily have gone about their business and planted the trees with little fanfare, they all believe it is important to share their knowledge.

“Educating these kids on the importance of caring for the environment and gaining some understanding about the importance of trees is important because they are going to be the ones caring for them in the future,” Kellogg said.

Tree City USA is a national organization that has been active since 1976. More than 3,400 communities throughout the nation have become a part of Tree City USA.

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