Making Arbor Day real for kids was a major focus of one fourth grade class’s field trip to an arboretum. Children had a true hands on experience, with muddy hands, grass stained jeans, and scratched fingers. But all agreed it was worth it.
More than a dozen activities were scheduled for visiting children on Arbor Day at the Arboretum at Penn State. The objective was to support kids understanding of nature and appreciate the value of being good stewards of the earth.
“We want to make it real for the kids,” said Kate Reeder, event and marketing coordinator at The Arboretum. “In school, sometimes there is not much to say other than Johnny Appleseed, but this way they learn from hands-on education.”
The students learned about pollination, bugs, soil and other topics, and were able to scale one of two oak trees on site and plant 12 new trees near Bigler Road.
The trees include the paw-paw, buckeye, red maple, Oriental spruce and honey locust, said Shari Edelson, director of horticulture at the university. Edelson said each student had a different role in the planting process.
Kim Steiner, professor of forest biology and director of the Arboretum, said the oak trees where the students were climbing might be 100 years old.
“They’re old, but it shows the kids how long it takes for the trees to grow,” Steiner said. “It puts things in perspective for them.”
Houserville Elementary School teacher Michele Allen said the event gave her students lessons not found in the classroom.
“They’re interactive with the activities,” Allen said. “That’s one of the best things for them, so they can see firsthand the effects of nature.”
Houserville fourth-grader Madeline Diehl, 10, enjoyed being outdoors, and drawing pictures of plants and animals that she turned into stickers.
Classmate Stephen Elliott, 9, enjoyed climbing the oak tree.
“I was pretty good at it,” Stephen said hesitantly. “That was the best for me though. It was a lot of fun.”