As is tradition, Ogden Preparatory’s 8th graders were Ogden City’s Arbor Day celebration. And, as is tradition, it was a great success. Ogden City provided the plans, the pizza, and plenty of shovels. Ogden Prep provided the muscles and the “man” power. God gave us sunshine and soil and it was all good.
Arbor Day is an easy sell for me. In early April I tell my students about our Arbor Day tradition and invite them to join us. “We will be working,” I tell them. “Working. You will be digging big holes in hard, rocky ground. You will be using shovels and pickaxes. It may be super hot or it could be very, very cold. You will be working all day. Hard. Don’t come if you don’t want to work.” Then I tell them they apply for the privilege of working all day; they have to fill out an application and write a 200-300 word essay if they want to come. “And the application must be submitted by the deadline. Late applications will be discarded.”
I also tell them the city feeds us all-you-can-eat pizza and pop for lunch and that, for many former students, Arbor Day was their favorite field trip. Given that Arbor Day falls on the final Friday in April (which means they have to miss a day of school) and that tree planting has an inherent, organic appeal to most people, Arbor Day is not a hard sell, even though students have to write an essay and commit to work hard. This year 60 of my 90 students filled out an application and submitted it on time.
Arbor Day participation requires an investment from my students. It also requires a significant investment from Ogden City. Damien Reeves, Ogden’s Arbolist, and Monte Stewart, director of Parks and Rec, start preparations months in advance. They pick the parks, provide the trees, pay for the pizza, and coordinate with forest service personnel.
To be designated as an official “Tree City”, an honor Ogden has earned for 34 years in a row, Ogden must spend $2 per capita annually on tree related expenses and host an Arbor Day celebration and ceremony. Damien, Monte and their crew put the plans in place and Ogden Preparatory students put the plans in motion. It is a symbiotic relationship that benefits all.
NOTE: All student photos have been published with permission..