BONNER – Armed with shovels and trowels, about 45 Bonner School fourth- and fifth-grade students got to work digging holes for trees Thursday afternoon at the Bonner Learning Park.
“I’ll clear debris,” fourth-grader Ryan Buness offered cheerily.
He and fifth-grader Kolby Slate, both newbies at planting trees, worked to dig a hole large enough for the green ash seedling.
“I think it’s pretty cool,” Kolby said.
“It helps the wildlife out here,” he added.
The area is part of the environment that the kids grow up in and shapes them, said Kerrie Ghenie, who was helping her son, fourth-grader Kian Ghenie with a tree.
Planting the trees gave kids a chance to return the favor and shape their environment, Ghenie said.
Long-term, the project instills a “we can make things better” attitude in the kids, Ghenie added.
Thursday’s activity wasn’t the first time Bonner students have done projects and lessons outside the classroom in the park area.
The Bonner Development Group, which owns the property, and the school have partnered on several community projects over more than a decade, said Doug Ardiana, the school’s superintendent.
Students’ tree planting efforts will help move the park, which currently is closed, toward opening possibly next year, Ardiana said.
Trees for the planting project were donated by the development group, with additional trees from Missoula’s Urban Forestry Division.
Not only do trees filter air and water and prevent erosion, but they also beautify areas and are emotionally calming, said Karen Sippy, chairwoman of Trees for Missoula, who helped students plant trees.
Kids learned how to properly plant trees and maybe a seed was planted in their consciousnesses to plant another one later, Sippy said.
Ultimately, the hands-on experience gives kids a better connection to their environment, Ardiana said. “And that allows them to care more about their community.”
IF YOU GO
Celebrate Earth Day on the trails in Bonner during the Superfun(d) Run on Saturday. A one-mile fun run starts at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church at 9 a.m., and 5K and 10K races start at 9:30 a.m. Online registration ends at noon Friday, but registration is available during packet pickup from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at the Runner’s Edge in Missoula and Saturday starting at 7:30 a.m. at the church in Bonner. Visit runwildmissoula.org for more information.