SYCAMORE – Third-graders from Sycamore elementary schools helped plant a variety of trees across the city Friday in celebration of Earth Day.
The city now has five new trees total, one planted at each of these parks: Kiwanis East, Charley Laing, Sycamore Lake Rotary, Merry Oaks and Ovitz. Third-grade students from South Prairie Elementary, Southeast Elementary, West Elementary, North Elementary and North Grove Elementary schools shoveled dirt into holes for the trees.
Kreg Wesley, principal at South Prairie Elementary School, said learning about plants is part of the third-grade curriculum at the elementary schools. He said the idea came from members of the Sycamore School District 427 Sustainability Committee, which is made up of parents, teachers and administrators who wanted to do something to commemorate Earth Day while still making the event more kid-focused.
“They just thought it would be a good thing to talk about, just contributing back to the Earth and just being more mindful about nature and how we need to be more active participants,” Wesley said.
Erin Elder, one of the leaders of the sustainability committee and a parent of children in Sycamore schools, said the group has led efforts such as school gardens and eliminating food waste and the use of Styrofoam trays in school lunchrooms. She said the committee’s goal is to have educated residents who take responsibility for their environment by including schools in projects such as this.
“Students are the future,” Elder said. “We want to teach them why it’s important and why they need to get involved and take care of the Earth.”
Mitch Irwin is on the District 427 Sustainability Committee and has children who attend North Elementary School. He said the hope is to make this an annual event, since the city could use five more trees planted every year.
“The city will always have trees that age and die and need replacing,” Irwin said.
The Sycamore Lions Club donated $500 to purchase the trees that were planted Friday. Sarah Rex, marketing and recreation supervisor for the Sycamore Park District, said the district is looking at more partnerships such as this through the school district in the future.