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The City Journals

Jordan Ridge Students Plant Trees For Arbor Day

Jun 10, 2016 08:57AM ● By Julie Slama

Jordan Ridge students help plant new trees that were donated to the school for Arbor Day. — Cathy Anderson

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Jordan Ridge sixth-grader Brandon Johanson put a shovel-full of dirt on top of the roots of a 10-foot tall Sycamore Maple then stepped back and watched his classmates also flip dirt into the hole.

“We learned how the trees will grow and what we could do to help,” Brandon said.

South Jordan Parks Department, Zwich Construction, Millcreek Gardens and Dry Creek Charities all worked together so students could plant five donated trees April 29 as part of an Arbor Day celebration, Principal Cathy Anderson said.

“It’s been a learning experience for me to see how trees are planted and it’s a wonderful way to improve our school grounds,” Anderson said. 

Anderson said she was first approached by Colton Dushane, a former student who now is a father of two current students.

“He was interested in donating trees to be planted here at the school so he worked with our school district facilities team and our custodian to see that it could happen,” she said. 

Soon after, she learned that Jason Bond, South Jordan Parks Department’s forestry/open space supervisor, also wanted to have students plant trees for the school landscape. 

The parks department volunteered to dig holes for all the trees, then their staff oversaw fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade students planting three Scyamore Maple trees in the morning. Then, Dushane helped kindergarten and second-grade students, who had mini-size shovels, plant two Norwegian Maple trees in the afternoon. 

All the students learned how to plant and care for the trees.

“We learned that they most likely will grow 30- to 40-feet tall by the time I’m an adult,” sixth-grader Gage Sundloff said.

Classmate Ashley Wilson said that they learned about caring for the trees and not to break their branches so that leaves will provide photosynthesis, or the chance to convert food for the tree as well as produce oxygen.

Bond said that climbing trees is a natural part of childhood.

“I climbed trees, but trees should be climbed when they can be, not trees that are this small,” he said. “We need to leave the branches on so leaves can provide food for the trees.”

Bond said that when he started with South Jordan Parks Department recently, one of his duties was to start an Arbor Day project and in his past, planting trees at schools was a rewarding experience. So after working with the school and school district, South Jordan City purchased trees that met the school district guidelines.

“The custodian chose the placement for the trees, but we explained to the students why the hole was wide and shallow,” Bond said.

Sixth-grader Jacey Robins said that it would help the roots when they spread since the tree grows out, not down.

“That’s so they can reach the nutrients on the top soil,” Gage added.

Bond said the oxygen and water is mostly gained from the top few inches of the soil and even with that day’s rain, they immediately watered the trees.

“We talked about what a tree needs to survive — the water, oxygen and sunlight — and how they need to treat new trees. They kids really seemed to enjoy it and I was surprised how much they already knew,” he said.

Dushane also said he was surprised at the students’ knowledge.

“Kindergartners knew what deciduous trees were; it wasn’t a new word to them,” he said.

Dushane, who is a cost estimator for Zwick Construction, said that his company teams up with Dry Creek Charities on community service projects. The past few years, Dry Creek has donated trees they get from Millcreek Gardens to schools who have needed them, mostly schools that don’t have school district funding, Dushane said.

This year, they opened the possibility to schools where employees have children and Dushane immediately contacted his former school.

“It’s a cool milestone that they can watch develop and grow and become good stewards of the environment,” he said. “I have a tree in my yard that was planted when I was two years old and now it’s huge. These trees will be really neat for them to go back to see as they mature.”