Teaching with Trees

On October 31, Ottauquechee Natural Resources Conservation District coordinated a hands-on experience for Julie Brown’s Woodstock Union Structured Literacy class with US Fish & Wildlife to plant bareroot trees on Howard Jonas’ farm in Bridgewater, VT. This was a follow up for a 2017 VTDEC Trees for Stream program to replace trees damaged over the winter. The class had been studying George Perkins Marsh and this event connected them to Marsh’s realization that what we have destroyed we can also repair.

Despite rain in the forecast, all parties converged in the Jonas cornfield at 8:30 AM armed with raincoats, shovels and a great deal of anticipation. Annalise Carington, US Fish & Wildlife, explained her role in the Trees for Streams program. “Getting to see the plantings 3-4 years later is the highlight of my job,” she told the students. “I get to see forests reborn.” Retired Windsor County Forester, Jon Bouton, took the lead in showing the students how to identify the trees, taking a bud from a poplar and letting them smell it. “Tree ID can be hard, especially when the leaves are off,” he explained. “There are little tricks to learn that make it easier.” Both he and Annalise demonstrated how to plant the bare root trees stressing that planting too deep was the most common error. The students split into teams and the real work began planting 50 bareroot trees. By 10:30, the proud students completed the task and jumped at the opportunity to have their picture taken along the US Fish & Wildlife truck. Both Brown and Carrington agreed that such an event was one that made them love their jobs.