Guest Contributor: Jessica Pyrda, District Forester, Oneida County Soil & Water Conservation District

It was a pleasure working as a mentor with Eric Bugbee and Angela Martin, the TREE TEAM from the Mount Markham Central School District, and Arborist Terry Hawkridge on the 2024 NYSUFC Tree Campus K-12 Grant.

Incoming Trees. Photo Jessica Pyrda
Eric Bugbee Teaches About Trees. Photo Jessica Pyrda

Mount Markham applied for this grant with the purpose of extending the hedgerow acting as a windbreak between their land lab and athletic fields while increasing their sugar bush.

The school was able to purchase two 2” caliper ball-and-burlap sugar maple trees with the money from the grant. These trees were picked up by Terry Hawkridge and ended up measuring 3 1/4” — he got a great deal!

Students Add Peat. Photo Jessica Pyrda

Mount Markham Central School District’s tree planting ceremony was held on Arbor Day, Friday April 26, 2024.  As it was a half day of school, most of the prep work for the planting was completed on Thursday, April 25.

Members of the West Winfield Garden Club came to the ceremony and helped mulch the trees. DEC Forester Dan Welc also arrived to celebrate the day, and handed out Arbor Day posters and postcards to the students.

New Trees. Photo Terry Hawkridge

The school’s FFA students along with the Natural Resource, Environmental classes and Envirothon team were involved in every step of the process. A mini excavator was donated for the planting. The students used it to dig the holes. The kids built a new wall with the stones that they excavated!

New Wall. Photo Terry Hawkridge
Terry Hawkridge, Oneida County SWCD Forester Jessica Pyrda, NYSDEC Forester Dan Welc

It was a beautiful day and a great experience for the school and for myself.