by Addie Cappello, Horticulture Assistant, CCE Nassau County
As part of the ongoing Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) Reforestation Grant, we ALB project staff (Nick Bates, Rob Calamia, and Addie Cappello) entered the fall 2107 planting season excited to be out of the office and back to working outdoors. For the third consecutive season, we were undertaking the entire tree project—from planning to planting—without the assistance of outside contractors. We are proud of the skills, knowledge, and self-sufficiency we have built up over time.
As part of the ongoing Community Benefit Tree Program of the ALB project, we had planned to plant 50 public trees within the Town of Oyster Bay in fall of 2017. These trees would be planted within the grounds of three schools located in the Massapequa School District: Massapequa High School, Unqua Road Elementary School, and Eastlake Elementary School. We worked closely with the grounds manager for the district, Pete Cheswick, who helped us locate ideal spots for new trees, while we selected appropriate species. Planting went well and we were happy to have helped a community as well as further our goal of reforesting Long Island.
A few days after we completed the Massapequa School District plantings, our project forester, Nick, received a text message from Pete Cheswick. The message contained a picture of a letter written from kindergarten students at Lockhart Elementary School to the District’s Director of Facilities and Operations, Tim O’Donnell. The letter spoke of the benefits and beauty of trees and the students wanted to know if they could have trees planted at their school. Pete sent Nick this heartwarming message in hopes that we could give some trees to Lockhart Elementary School as part of the Community Benefit Tree Program.
When we checked, we found that Lockhart unfortunately fell outside of our eligible planting area for the ALB Reforestation Project plantings. Although we couldn’t plant trees through our grant program, we were so moved and excited by the letter that CCE-Nassau County funded the purchase of trees to allow the Urban Forestry Department (that’s us!) to complete the plantings as an educational opportunity in arboriculture instead.
All three ALB project staff (Nick Bates, Rob Calamia, and Addie Cappello) set out with a truck, tools, and some trees to Lockhart Elementary School where we met with the kindergarten classes outside to teach them how to plant a tree and answer all their endearing questions. Not only did we have a great time with the kids, plant a few more trees, and spend another day outside, we provided an educational opportunity to the next generation of environmentalists and hopefully a memory that they will carry with them to the future. Thank you, Lockhart Elementary School kindergartners!