By Dawn Krebs
PORT ST. LUCIE -- Living in the Sunshine State has its advantages, and one of them is being able to celebrate Arbor Day in January.
Because the warm winter makes for ideal planting conditions, the state recognizes Arbor Day on Jan. 18.
And that's when the Friends of the Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens held an Arbor Day ceremony.
This was the fourth year the gardens have had the ceremony. There was a tree blessing, followed by a recitation of an Arbor Day poem. Part of the ceremony involved remembering loved ones and their names were read.
Afterward, an olive tree was planted in the gardens, and is identified with a plaque showing the year of the planting. The names read at the memorial were included in a remembrance book that is kept throughout the year inside the gardens.
Also in Port St. Lucie, fourth graders from five elementary schools were able to touch nature and plant a tree, thanks to a partnership between the Keep Port St. Lucie Beautiful committee and Waste Pro.
"We pick five schools every year and deliver sabal palm saplings to the students," said Tina Giesler, spokeswoman for the committee. "We rotate the schools every year."
The saplings were delivered on Jan. 16 because the students were out of school on Jan. 18. The Keep Port St. Lucie Beautiful Committee had a special presentation at West Gate K-8 with members of the Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens. The other schools receiving saplings were Parkway Elementary, Savanna Ridge Elementary, St. Lucie West K-8 and Village Green Environmental Studies School.
"We didn't tell the students that they were receiving anything until the presentation," said Emily Ruck, fourth-grade team leader for Westgate K-8. "They were so surprised and excited about it. They were asking all kinds of questions."
The saplings were donated as part of the fourth grade foresters USA program, which enabled the students to receive them at no cost to the students or schools.
"We've been doing this for a number of years," said Ms. Giesler. "The children were very involved."
Ms. Ruck said the students were very appreciative of the presentation.
"To have someone else actually come and talk to the students is a real eye-opener for them," she said. "It's nice to hear the information from someone in the community."
The Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens is located at 2410 S.E. Westmoreland Blvd. in Port St. Lucie. For more information, call (772) 337-1959. The Keep Port St. Beautiful committee is always looking for sponsors for its many programs.
For more information, call (772) 873-6312.