Roots of Learning

Students work at tree farm to ‘Plant it Forward’

Haley Carr and Gianna Speroni smooth the dirt around the tree they planted for Arbor Day Thursday. Enlargephoto

Journal/Sam Green

Haley Carr and Gianna Speroni smooth the dirt around the tree they planted for Arbor Day Thursday.

Wearing matching brown shirts printed with “Plant Trees,” a herd of children jumped, spun and flailed their arms to guitarist Brett Pejsa’s rendition of “Time Warp” — stirring up a cloud of dust on a windy Cortez morning.

Approximately 250 area elementary students descended upon the Cortez Municipal Tree Farm for Arbor day — romping, eating ice cream, and spraying a hose from a wildland fire truck with Smokey the Bear.

Students learned that trees produce oxygen, produce shade as well as providing shelter for animals and people.

Children rushed onto the farm, eager to help plant 15 trees for future generations to enjoy.

Dubbed “Plant it Forward,” by Cortez Parks Superintendant Mark Boblitt, the concept of planting trees for someone else to enjoy is taken from a 2000 film “Pay it Forward,” about doing favors in the hope that it will be passed on.

“Anyone know when the best time to plant a tree is?” Boblitt asked the students. “Thirty years ago. The second best time is today.”

Participating schools included Mesa Elementary, Manaugh Elementary, Kemper Elementary, Lewis-Arriola Elementary, Dolores Elementary and Mancos Elementary.

Sponsored by local banks, winners in a student poster contest received money, gift certificates and/or an Osprey backpack. Winning posters will be on display at the Cortez Recreation Center for the month of May.

Established in 2011, and boosted by a grant from the Colorado Tree Coalition, the Cortez’s award-winning tree farm allows saplings to grow large and strong enough to be transplanted into parks around the city. The farm utilizes drip irrigation and mulch chipped from city tree prunings.

City officials believe this practice saves thousands of dollars annually.

This is the city’s 20th year under the Arbor Day Foundation’s “Tree City USA” designation.

Reach Reid Wright at reidw@cortezjournal.com

Mark Boblitt explains the programmable sprinkler system at the city of Cortez tree farm. Enlargephoto

Journal/Sam Green

Mark Boblitt explains the programmable sprinkler system at the city of Cortez tree farm.

Taveah Root sprays water as the BLM firefighters let elementary students get the feel of a fire hose Thursday during the Arbor Day festivities. Enlargephoto

Journal/Sam Green

Taveah Root sprays water as the BLM firefighters let elementary students get the feel of a fire hose Thursday during the Arbor Day festivities.

Logan Birch, Bryan Escarcega, Nicholas Martin and Samuel Toles carry a tree to be planted at the city of Cortez tree farm by the softball fields. Enlargephoto

Journal/Sam Green

Logan Birch, Bryan Escarcega, Nicholas Martin and Samuel Toles carry a tree to be planted at the city of Cortez tree farm by the softball fields.

Alexander Vestal digs a hole to plant one of the trees. Enlargephoto

Journal/Sam Green

Alexander Vestal digs a hole to plant one of the trees.

Kemper students Madison Lankford and Presley Frost display their winning posters at the Arbor Day celebration Thursday. Enlargephoto

Journal/Sam Green

Kemper students Madison Lankford and Presley Frost display their winning posters at the Arbor Day celebration Thursday.