Several years ago, a storm ripped through Randleman, North Carolina and tore out almost 400 loblolly pine trees in the town’s World Summer Youth Camp.
Loblolly pines have roots that grow close to the surface of the ground, and groups of the pines will intertwine their roots like the weaving of a blanket. When one tree falls, sometimes others are pulled up with it. Boy Scout Mark Case, then 14, saw the devastation and knew he had to help. But he quickly realized he needed his Scout Troop and their teamwork skills to get the job done. He came up with a plan to turn the camp into an arboretum where people could learn about different species of trees and shrubs.
With the help of his parents, Mark applied for grants from local and national organizations. He collected about $1500 from different organizations, and used the money to buy trees and tools for his project. Mark asked arborists to help him pick the best trees and shrubs for the project. “I had to learn about the surface of the ground, and I had to plan how much fertilizer to use for each tree,” says Mark. “We have red clay here, so we needed to put in a lot of fertilizer and mulch so the trees would grow.”
On planting day, Mark hoped a few volunteers from his community would come to help the Troop with digging and planting. But he was surprised when over 90 people, ages 7 to 60, came to plant trees. Out of 92 trees that were purchased or donated for the project, 59 were planted on Join Hands Day. The rest were planted later that fall or were left in pots and protected for the winter. Mark’s Join Hands Day project won a Points of Light Foundation National Award of Excellence from the Points of Light Foundation.
“Other Scouts can do this for their own communities,” said Mark. “If you set your mind to do something you can do anything. It’s like climbing a mountain – you just have to keep moving. You can do things you never dreamed you could do.”
Mark is a great example to all of us – we can all help our Mother Earth by planting a few trees in our own communities. Not only is Arbor Day coming up at the end of this month, but Join Hands Day 2009 is celebrated on the first Saturday in May. Every tree – and every person – counts. Want to know how to properly plant a tree? I’ll add a page with easy instructions!