By Alisha McDarris
STUART -- Fourth grade students at JD Parker Elementary have the opportunity to be foresters for a day this Friday in honor of Arbor Day.
Thanks to the national program Fourth Grade Foresters and the Woman's Club of Stuart, the students will each be taking home a Sabal Palm seedling to plant on Jan.17 in an effort to revitalize the observance of Arbor Day in schools and start a conversation about conservation.
"Conservation is very important to the Woman's Club," said Francine Banasiak of the Woman's Club of Stuart.
She said the club loved the idea of partnering with Fourth Grade Foresters to provide the students with trees and give them the opportunity to put into practice what they've been learning about the environment in school.
"These are part of our natural resources and preserving and maintaining them is very important," Ms. Banasiak said. Besides, she added, "Planting trees is an inexpensive thing and helps improve the community."
So the Woman's Club purchased a tree for each fourth grader, 110 total, and Suzanne Stout, math and science teacher at JD Parker and the one coordinating the Arbor Day project, will distribute them to the students.
"We are lucky the Woman's Club knew about this program," Ms. Stout said. She is thrilled to be handing out the seedlings to so many students.
In addition to the tree, the children will also be sent home with instructions on how to plant and care for their tree.
"It reinforces the importance of trees and how it helps reduce our carbon footprint," which is something the students have been learning about, Ms. Stout said.
They've also been learning about Florida's natural resources and the life cycles of plants and Suzanne didn't think there was any better way for them to learn than by taking care of their own tree and watching it grow.
"It really enforces the things they learn by putting the knowledge into practice," Ms. Stout said.
Both Ms. Stout and Ms. Banasiak hope the program helps revitalize the observation of Arbor Day and reinvigorates its purpose of encouraging groups and individuals to plant and care for trees in addition to being a fun and educational project for the students.
"Children need to know what the holiday is all about," Ms. Stout said. "I think this will get them excited about it."