Sunday, July 15, 2018

Rotary Helps Public Tree Nursery Take Root at PHS

Photos by Evan Brandt
From left, Peggy Whittaker, Spring-Ford High School sophomore Geoff Bright, Pottstown High School Senior Giankirk Kimmell, David Sutton, Pottstown High School senior Destiny Moyer and Hank Saylor all worked Saturday to plant 100 trees in a new nursery being established at Pottstown High School by the Pottstown Rotary Club for its 100th anniversary.

The latest chapter in this story may end up behind Pottstown High School, but it started about a year ago in Australia.

Trees brought to Pottstown High School by Dave Fisher
await planting Saturday morning
Australia is where Ian H.S. Riseley is a member of his local Rotary Club -- Sandringham, Victoria, Australia
to be specific.

But last year, Risely was also the president-elect of Rotary International and, as is the club's tradition, he set a global theme for the year.

It was an appropriately global goal.

The president-elect challenged every Rotary Club in the world to make a difference by planting a tree for each of its members between the start of the Rotary year on 1 July and Earth Day on 22 April 2018.

Environmental degradation and global climate change "are having a disproportionate impact on those who are most vulnerable, those to whom Rotary has the greatest responsibility," Risely ” said last year at Rotary's International Assembly in San Diego, according to a post in the club's web site.

David Sutton and Peg Whittaker settle a tree into its new home.
"Yet environmental issues rarely register on the Rotary agenda," he said. “The time is long past when environmental sustainability can be dismissed as not Rotary’s concern. It is, and must be, everyone’s concern,” he said.

Trees remove carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the air, which slows global warming.

The shade trees provide also lower temperatures and thus electricity use, and energy bills.

They also increase the value of residential properties, studies have shown.

“It is my hope that the result of that effort will be far greater than the environmental benefit that those 1.2 million new trees will bring,” Riseley said. “I believe the greater result will be a Rotary that recognizes our responsibility not only to the people on our planet, but to the planet itself.”
Pottstown High School seniors Destiny Moyer, left, and
Giankirk Kimmell, second from right, both members of
the school's Interact Club, joined Bright and his
nephew, Spring-Ford sophomore Geoff Bright for the
planting Saturday.

Mike Bright was the president of the Pottstown Rotary Club when that challenge was issued and he took it to heart. 

The fact that 2018 was also the 100th anniversary of the Pottstown Rotary Club gave him a pretty good idea of how to meet that challenge, he said between digging tree pits Saturday.

"We decided to plant 100 trees," he said, although he acknowledged the club doesn't have 100 members -- "yet."

"We were just going to plant them around town, in parks and the like, and then Tom Hylton came to us and said 'why didn't we plant them in a sustainable way in a way that helps the town the most?' and we agreed that was a great idea," said Bright.

"Now, when Pottstown needs a tree, they can just come here, dig one up and plant it where it's needed," he said.

From left, Matt Kutz, Mike Bright and Tim Hennessey use an
auger to dig holes for the 100 trees plans Saturday.
Rotary purchased the trees and Hylton obtained permission from the school board to use the plot of land behind the school along North Adams Street.

An irrigation system was installed by local plumber Aram Ecker.

Then came the day of planting and it was discovered that the dirt that had been dumped on the site to raise it up enough for the roots to be be healthy had settled a bit.

Shovels were not going to get the job done. Luckily, the brilliant idea of renting an auger was floated and soon enough, 100 tree pits had been dig into the loosened soil.

The new nursery will be home to:
The volunteers made quick work emptying the truck full of trees.

  • 20 pin oaks 
  • 20 red maples 
  • 15 Kwanson cherry trees 
  • 15 red oak 
  • 10 Valley Forge elms 
  • 20 London plane trees and 
  • 3 sunburst maple trees.

Bright said he hopes that the high school's Interact Club, sever members of which were on hand to help with the planting, can help with maintenance throughout the school year.

Rotary sponsors the Internact Club in the high school.
Trees were planted almost as quickly as the holes were dug.

The partnership between the school district, the Rotary Club and community activists serves as another example of the advantages of collective action and teamwork, said John Armato, the district's director of community relations and a Pottstown School Board member.

"Just another example of people coming together to make Pottstown a better place to live," said Armato, adding, as he is often known to do. "One town, one team, one goal."

Pottstown's new sustainable public tree nursery takes shape Saturday.

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