J. Clarke Ecology Club: We Need More Trees!

J Clarke Richardson Collegiate boasts a great deal of fun and impressive clubs, filled with passionate and enthusiastic students participating every week. One such club is our very own Ecology Club (or Eco Club for short). All the members of this club are dedicated to learning about, and working with our environment. The club has learned about plants and animals while practicing survival skills like tying useful knots and making a fire with a flint, steel and some dry leaves.

What to do…

Enriching the environment around us is one of the main goals the Eco Club strives to fulfill. The members of this club are always looking for new ways to reduce the community’s carbon footprint. One of the ways that immediately came to mind was planting trees around the school. That would be an important step towards our goal. Moreover, this was a long-term plan since it would take years for the trees to grow, which meant the trees had to be planted as soon as possible. We grabbed our saplings, hoisted our shovels and marched down to the field the very next week.

Students collecting mulch to use for the plants

Fortunately for us, there was plenty of space to plant trees. A dozen saplings of various species, including tulip trees, white pine trees, red oak trees, and silver maple trees, were already chosen by our teacher and mentor, Mr. Ireland. We were split into five teams, each responsible for a single sapling, while some of the members were given the responsibility to get mulch to cover the base of the saplings. The first thing we had to do was dig the holes, making sure there was enough room for the saplings to grow nicely and spread their roots as far as they could. Each team marked a spot on the ground and started digging.

Time to Dig!

Hammering a piece of wood into the ground for support

Digging holes in the ground turned out to be a lot easier than we expected. We found out the hard way that a slab of stone buried in the ground for decades is pretty hard to dig out but other than that, it went surprisingly smooth and we had the saplings planted twenty minutes in. They were carefully surrounded with metal netting to protect them from lawnmowers. As well we hammered a piece of wood into the soil beside them to act as support.

Next we covered the soil around the sapling with mulch. This would allow the sapling to get a huge amount of important nutrients without any maintenance. We wrapped the trunk of the sapling with a plastic tree guard to ensure the sapling doesn’t get eaten by mice. As we worked, we found plenty of fascinating critters like snails and beetle grubs. One of our members even unearthed a bird skull! We carefully placed them in a container so we could learn about them later.

After more than an hour of hard work, we stood triumphantly in front of new saplings planted on the ground. Saplings that will turn into beautiful trees in about a decade. We slowly started cleaning the place up. Half of our group collected all the supplies that were brought in. Meanwhile, the other half made sure to level all the dirt with the ground so everything looked neat and tidy. We joked about how we could come back in forty years and throw acorns from these trees at each other. To this day, every time a student drives through the parking lot, they can see the saplings, growing steadily.