Bethany J. Royer
PIQUA — Rain made for a change of plans and brought Arbor Day — hosted by Forest Hill Cemetery and under the direction of Jim Roth, superintendent — to the Wilder school auditorium Friday morning. While students may not have had a chance to plant a tree in celebration of this very special, traditional day, there was plenty of information shared on the important role trees play in the environment, activities, and even prizes from Unity Bank.
Roth began the event with an introduction of special guests, Linda Raterman, information/public relations specialist for Miami Soil and Water Conservation District, Stacy Wall, city law director, and Tristan Weis, veteran outreach coordinator for Congressman John Boehner’s Troy office. Before a robust “Happy Arbor Day!” was given by the students to Raterman, who presented them with a rather unique question: What year did the state of Ohio have more trees — 1914 or 2014? How about 1814 or 2014? Then choosing a few volunteers to help her present a large physical map showcasing the areas of the state with the most trees (Hint: the south and east) with the question as to why?
Read further for those answers.
Students also got to their feet to emulate trees in the landscape, quiet and stationary save their limbs — or in this case arms — moving in the proverbial wind while challenged to collect nutrients dropped at their feet. Sorry, no bending allowed.
This activity was followed by the presentation of prizes to those with the best posters entered in a school-wide contest hosted by Unity Bank. Branch managers, Kyle Cooper and Krista Leece presented winners with cash prizes in first, second and third place for fourth, fifth and sixth grade.
First place - Lotus Isaacs
Second place - Reagan Toopes
Third place - Kaitlyn Bachman
First place - Cheyanne Swayne
Second place - Jasmine Gilardi
Third place - Paige Hinkle
First place - Colton Gambill
Second place - Katelin Wintrow
Third place - Alexa Burns
About those questions posed to Wilder students by Raterman, geography plays a significant part in the state of Ohio having more trees to the east and south given the hilly terrain in that region. While history plays a part in the number of trees over time with more trees in the state in 1814 than 2014, but fewer in 1914 than 2014, but why?
As explained by Raterman, Ohio became a state in 1803 and with substantial growth came removal of a large number of trees, transforming the landscape for agriculture. However, by the 1900s came the realization the loss of trees coincided with a heavy environmental. As trees provide a host of benefits to communities including energy savings, an increase in property value, absorption of carbon dioxide, economic development stimulus, improved water quality, erosion reduction, aesthetic appeal, and even a reduction in crime.
The significant loss of trees also had an impact on animals in the area, from buffalo to deer.
J. Sterling Morton understood the importance, and to promote the planting of trees and urban growth began Arbor Day with the first celebration held in 1884 and more than a million trees planted in a single day.
Bethany J. Royer may be reached at (937) 773-2721 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall