Grant Elementary students help city celebrate Arbor Day
By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — Students at Grant Elementary celebrated Arbor Day on Friday, May 6, by planting a tree on their playground with the help of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Don Kissinger, regional urban forestry coordinator for the DNR, gave a lesson to a swarm of third-grade students about the importance of trees and then asked for their help in planting a new one. The official Arbor Day for Wisconsin, Kissinger said, is the final Friday in April, but celebrations of the day tend to occur whenever is convenient for a community and when the weather is favorable.
Arbor Day was first celebrated in Nebraska in 1872, Kissinger said.
“We want to proclaim that trees are important and not just beautiful,” Kissinger said. “They’re actually part of the infrastructure of communities. They hold the water for stormwater retention. They cool our homes. They sequester carbon dioxide and pollutants.”
In addition to the importance of trees in general, Kissinger talked to students about the impact of emerald ash borer (EAB), which was recently discovered in Wisconsin Rapids for the first time. EAB is an insect that feeds on and kills ash trees.
Kissinger also spoke to students about the cost- and energy-saving capabilities of trees. For example, Kissinger said, a tree that provides shade to a building could reduce the need to run an air conditioner.
Mayor Chris Meyer also spoke to the students, quizzing them about the importance of trees. Meyer noted that Marshfield is a member of Tree City U.S.A., which is an Arbor Day Foundation program recognizing cities that meet four main criteria: “maintaining a tree board or department, having a community tree ordinance, spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry, and celebrating Arbor Day,” according to the Arbor Day Foundation website.
Kissinger said Marshfield has met the requirements to be a Tree City U.S.A. for 34 of the 40 years the program has existed.