Red Deer Grade 1 students get in on tree planting fun for Arbor Day

Red Deer got a little greener on Arbor Day as a white spruce was planted near St. Patrick’s Community School.

More than that, the students in Grades 1 and 2 received seedlings after the tree was planted, encouraging them to go forth and plant their own future tree.

Susan Katzell, Red Deer urban forester, was all smiles as the white spruce went into the ground.

“It’s to promote tree awareness for the children,” said Katzell. “It’s building on the knowledge they already have.”

The students, who sat on the grass in a semi-circle around the hole where the tree was planted, cheered and clapped as every move of the truck-mounted tree spade brought the tree closer to its new home.

“The students are thrilled to see the tree spade, the size of the tree,” said Katzell. “The tree spade has the awe value to the children.”

The white spruce is a commemorative tree to mark Arbor Day. One is planted at a school every year in Red Deer.

“White spruce is native to Alberta,” Katzell said. “The birds, bees, butterflies all recognize this tree. It supports our native flora and fauna.”

The seedlings were handed out by Heather the Hawthorn, a mascot, to the students. The seedlings came from Alberta Sustainable Resource Development.

Like every year, the city gives away seedlings to Grade 1 local students. There are more than 1,500 Grade 1 students in the city who will have a chance to plant their own tree this year.

The city encourages students to plant the seedling at home or in a natural area of Red Deer.

Coun. Tanya Handley helped lead the festivities, asking the students questions about the importance of trees and getting them excited about the white spruce. She said it was one of the more fun parts of her job as councillor.

Arbor Day is celebrated every year in early May. It encourages people to plant trees.

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