Nine elementary schools in Grundy County will reap the benefits of having a new tree on their campuses for years to come, thanks to Spring Grove Nursery in Mazon.
One of the nine donated trees was planted at Immaculate Conception School in Morris on Arbor Day, Friday, April 27.
"My favorite part was digging because it was fun putting all the dirt on the tree," said ICS second-grader Hannah McGhee, who was able to help plant the tree.
Becky and Jamie Thomas, owners of Spring Grove Nursery, have been visiting ICS for the past four years to plant a new tree with Molly Lutz's second-graders. They have been planting trees at Grundy County elementary schools for the past nine years, however.
"We started when our daughter was in kindergarten at (Mazon-Verona-Kinzman Elementary School)," Becky said. "We thought it would be really fun to plant a tree with her class for Arbor Day."
They enjoyed themselves so much that they soon began to plant with any interested Grundy County elementary schools.
"Four years ago, we started doing it with a bunch more schools ... we just decided to invited all the grade schools in Grundy County that wanted to do it with us," Becky said. "We have nine (schools) now, and it's a lot of fun."
Before visiting ICS, Becky and Jamie planted trees at South Wilmington, Gardner, Dwight and MVK Elementary Schools. After ICS, the were to have stopped at Seneca, Braceville, Coal City and Saratoga Elementary Schools, too.
While at ICS, the nursery owners taught the students about the importance of trees, the history of Arbor Day and listened to the students' prayer and song once the tree was planted.
The students learned the five main benefits trees offer for the environment: they clean the air; they provide habitat for animals and creatures; they help save energy; they provide scenery; and they help soak up storm water.
Becky and Jamie explained to the students that throughout their new tree's lifetime, it will have benefited Immaculate Conception School by approximately $18,310. They predicted the elimination of 306,029 gallons of storm water runoff, the conservation of 25,600 kilowatt/hours of energy and the reduction of 97,224 pounds of carbon in the atmosphere from one tree at ICS.
The students helped plant the Profusion Crabapple tree near the Prayer Garden off of Jackson Street on the school's campus.
Lutz hopes her students learned how to care for the earth and how to love nature.
"It's a landmark they can watch as they go through the years," Lutz said. "It's their tree."
Arianna Becerra, another one of Lutz's students, said she learned worms are good for trees, because the nutrients from the worms help the tree grow more and more.
"Thank you God for this generous gift of nature," said another one of Lutz's students during a group prayer after the tree was planted. "As we grow in our lives and in our faith, may we always remember that we'll grow as trees: straight forward, strong and in God's care."