MARYSVILLE — The Strawberry Fields Athletic Park gained even more greenery during an otherwise gray rainy morning on Friday, April 19, as 75 students from the Marysville Cooperative Education Program at Marshall Elementary braved the downpour to plant more than 1,000 trees along the park’s western border.
“We’ve got Douglas fir, Sitka spruce and Shore Pine all well represented here,” said Michael Kundu, founder and director of Project SeaWolf, which has coordinated several such tree-plantings, often by local students, throughout the Marysville area and its surrounding environs. “This planting is looking especially good. I think we’ve got a record for muddy faces,” he laughed.
“I’m soaked and filthy, but I had fun,” said Gabe Kuhlman, a fifth-grade student at the Co-op. “Trees help prevent erosion because their roots hold in the soil.”
“These kids had a great time,” said Kundu, who asked Kuhlman if he planned on coming back in future years to check up on the trees that he helped to plant, and was answered with an emphatic “yes.” “I remember one year, we got a letter from one kid who said that the tree-planting he went to was such fun because he got to hit another kid with a mud-ball, and the very next letter was from another kid who said how much fun he had at that tree-planting, except that he got hit with a mud-ball,” he laughed.
Marshall Elementary Principal Kelly Sheward joined her students for the early part of the planting process, and was gratified by how they seemed to be responding to the experience.
“Our kids were proud to be able to give something back to the community,” Sheward said. “Some of them connected this work to the fact that they play soccer out here. Some of them even said how they’d like to see how big the trees they planted will have grown, by the time they’ve grown up themselves and are bringing their own kids to play out here. They get a sense of this tree-planting as being something much bigger than just what they did during a school day through Marshall.”
Sheward added that, due to the numbers of disabled students at Marshall Elementary who are unable to take part in such field trips, the school has arranged for a petting zoo to bring its animals to the school near the end of this school year, to help foster a similar emotional connection to nature among those students.
“We’re always looking for ways to involve all of our students,” Sheward said. “We even use the trees on our school campus for our students’ science studies.”