Planting Trees with Fir Grove Elementary

CRAIG REED | Communities for Healthy Forests | April 29th, 2022

One shovelful of dirt at a time, fifth grade students at Fir Grove Elementary School in Roseburg helped plant trees on the school’s grounds Friday afternoon. 

With guidance and help from members of Communities For Healthy Forests, about 30 students took turns on the shovels or watched as two Douglas fir trees and two ponderosa pine trees were planted. After dirt was tamped down around the root ball of each 3-foot tall tree, bark mulch was spread around each base and a wood stake pounded in to mark the tree’s location in order to protect it from running kids, lawn mowers and weed eaters. 

In finalizing his talk with a group of students, CHF member Mark Buckbee suggested that any time during hot days, bringing the trees a container of water would be beneficial. He also encouraged the kids to watch the trees’ growth through the years and to take pride in their part in their existence. 

The tree planting event served a dual purpose. It was part of Earth Day study and activities for the students and it was outreach for CHF, a 30-member organization whose primary focus is education regarding the health and management of trees and forests. 

Sherri Good, a Fir Grove fifth grade teacher, said that prior to Friday, the students had learned about the water cycle, climate changes, the role that trees play in our community and the importance of well managed forests. 

“Earth Day is special at Fir Grove because we typically get to participate in tree planting activities across the county,” Good said. “This year, Javier Goirigolzarri and his CHS team, treated our school to something more personal. Our fifth graders were able to help plant four new trees in the grove.” 

Goirigolzarri explained that initially the plan was to make a field trip so the students could plant trees in an area of the Archie Creek Fire burn east of Glide, but scheduling didn’t allow for such a trip. It was then decided to plant trees at the school with the event planned for Earth Day. Since several trees with age, drought, disease and safety issues had been removed professionally from the school’s grove in recent years, it was also time to plant some young replacements. 

Students Rory Randleas and Xavier Charro explained that they had learned trees collect carbon dioxide and turn it into oxygen. 

“Oxygen is what we need to breath,” Xavier said. “I’ll probably live here my whole life and I’ll watch these trees grow.” 

“Trees are important because they help keep us alive by making the oxygen we need to breath,” said Rory. 

“I love everything about trees, gardening and planting,” she added, explaining that she gardens with her father. “I don’t mind getting my hands dirty.” 

Communities For Healthy Forests has organized a tree planting event for the Fir Grove fifth graders each year since the organization was established 17 years ago. 

“These educational experiences are important because of the focus on the environmental impact by the warming climate, wildfires and what they’re doing to the forest lands,” said Doug Robertson, the executive director of CHF. “The best way to address some of these issues is to grow young trees that produce oxygen versus old trees that have quite growing. 

“There’s been more legislation aimed at pre- and post-fire management of forests,” Robertson explained. “The rules we’re following are 20 to 30 years old, but times have changed, conditions on the ground have changed and we’re trying to match rules and management primarily on federal lands with the changing conditions for our forests of today.” 

Good said young students need to be informed and educated about these changes. She was appreciative of the CHF members sharing their tree expertise. 

“As our students grow, they will be able to watch those trees grow,” she said. “The future leaders of our community are in our classrooms today. Students at Fir Grove understand that they are the stewards of our earth for their generation and generations to come.”