The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

April 17, 2014

Let it grow (with Video)

By Brenden West Assistant Editor
The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON – A new generation of trees will be planted by a young generation of Irish.

Wednesday during class, Lisa Golden’s Prince of Peace Prep third-graders continued their year-long biology education with the help of Clinton’s Trees Forever organization. Led by Master Gardener Don Johnson, 15 students learned helpful tips to assist their new plants’ healthy growth.

The lesson went beyond that for Golden.

“It’s something they see in their natural world, and they learn how things work,” she said. “It improves their observational skills, even their critical thinking skills about where’s the best place for a tree to grow. It’s important for them to understand how they benefit the world, while finding a tangible way to aid their world.”

Trees Forever has been helping local youths plant trees for the last 22 years. Their first saplings have grown to be 20 to 30 feet tall, Johnson said. To him, the lesson was a way for young people to learn early whether gardening is for them.

“If they can take care of a tree they’re going to take care of other things too,” Johnson said. As a Master Gardener, he is a certified public educator on horticulture. “I had a few students who were excited about doing this. I like to get them involved in this stuff.”

As for his advice, the students learned how even trees need “exercise,” with weather elements working out limbs and making them strong. Johnson also told his class that talking to plants actually helps them grow healthier – the carbon dioxide emitted by humans saturates the trees.

The students each planted saplings into small pots and transported the plants home. Most of them said they plan to plant their “new friends” in their backyards or somewhere else at home. Nine-year-old Piper Wiesner also took home some of Johnson’s knowledge.

“It’s important to plant trees so the environment can grow,” she said.