100 Trees Planted For Sodt

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Robert Conner, 15, bent down in the wind Sunday to compact the woodchips spread around a newly planted black spruce.

The ninth-grader at Jefferson High School had enlisted about 30 friends, family members and fellow Boy Scouts from Troop 597 to help him with his service project to plant 100 trees behind Sodt Elementary School on Nadeau Rd.

If everything goes according to plan, the project that coincided with Earth Day will earn Robert his Eagle Scout ranking.

"What's better than growing trees that are 70 feet tall?" Robert said at the project site on a windy Sunday afternoon. "These trees will last for 100 years if taken care of properly."

A crew of all ages showed up behind Sodt's playground and began digging one-foot holes in two rows and plugging the holes with baby black spruce trees. The trees can grow to be 200 years old and 50 to 70 feet high, Robert said.

"Right now, they're small. Five years from now they'll be 8 feet tall," said Robert's mother, Debbie Conner, who is an art teacher at Sodt Elementary. "They'll provide a nice wind block."

Boy Scout Tyrus Septer, 13, grabbed a small tree out of a plastic bucket and set it in a hole that already had been dug. He had dug a couple of holes already and was concentrating on planting.

"It's a benefit to the Earth," Tyrus, a student at Summit Academy North Middle School, said. "It's a means to help produce more oxygen … trees take in (carbon dioxide) and give out oxygen."

"Ah, this ones a good one," said Boy Scout Scott Blair, 12, as he pulled a tree from a white plastic bag and set it in the earth. He said it was easy digging 10 holes and came out for the "fun of it."

"I help my mom plant our trees at our house. We have our own garden. I plant tomatoes," the sixth-grader at Jefferson Middle School said.

In order to make his project fly, Robert had to clear it through Sodt's principal and school board and make sure there were no sewage lines in the area he wanted to dig, which spans about 300 feet in a field behind Sodt.

Mrs. Conner said Sodt Elementary is going green through such practices as planting a vegetable garden and recycling juice boxes. The school won an award at the Earth Day Expo Saturday for its efforts, Mrs. Conner said.

Robert's relative donated the trees and Floral City Tree and Landscape in Monroe gave the woodchips to spread at their base, which cuts down on weeds.

Robert estimates it will take 100 hours to complete the project, Mrs. Conner said. He will return in the summer to water the trees and take care of those that don't survive. "There's bound to be some that don't make it for some reason," she said.

Once Robert finishes his project, he'll go before the Eagle Scout review board that will determine whether he earns his Eagle ranking, said assistant Scout Master Walt Lazar, who came out Sunday to lend his support.

"It's a good idea," Mr. Lazar said. "He's showing leadership. He got the materials. He is leading the project. That's what it's all about."

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