Hands dirty for the Earth

Written by Steve Henschel, Published on October 14, 2011 by NiagaraThisWeek.com (Original Source)

Welland students plant trees to monitor effects of climate change

The playground at Princess Elizabeth Public School as some new leafy tenants thanks to a handful of passionate students, the Association for Canadian Educational Resources and Climate Action Niagara.

The school’s Eco Club and special needs class spent Thursday morning planting 16 trees and 45 shrubs on the school’s property as part of a national Association for Canadian Educational Resources (ACER) program offered in partnership with Climate Action Niagara (CAN). The program sees schools planting identical trees and shrubs, measuring and monitoring their growth into the future to examine the effects of climate change on native Canadian trees.

“(We want) to give these kids a chance to get their hands on climate change,” said ACER founding president Alice Casselman, noting that 15 schools have already come on board with Princess Elizabeth being the second in Niagara. Students will spend years to come measuring climate change indicators on the white spruce, hop tree, sugar maple, bur oak and basswood they planted on Thursday. That information will be sent of to ACER and Environment Canada to be analyzed, hopefully demonstrating what species are most at risk in a warming global climate.

“They (the students) are the ones who are going to bear the brunt of climate change,” said Casselman, noting that ACER funds all the costs associated with the program. The shrubs, which students potted in May, will serve as ground covers for the trees protecting the roots and area around the base of the trunk.

“They’re all so passionate,” said special needs teacher Cathy Terrio-Lukiet of the students involved, “I couldn’t see them not being involved.”
“I want to save the earth,” said Grade 6 Eco Club member Maddie Barnes, adding planting the trees is great as in the future she will be able to show others how they can help.

Casselman explained that the program teaches students “five Ps”. The first is protocol, demonstrated to the students through the standardized measurement and data gathering they will undertake in the future. The second is precision, taught through accurate data gathered down to the second decimal place. Persistence is demonstrated through constant monitoring and politeness is taught through environmental care. Lastly the students learn some patience as year after year they watch the saplings make small strides to become full-grown trees.

Quaker Road Public School will become the third Niagara school to participate on Friday as its students dig in and get their hands dirty planting. For more information on ACER and the program visit www.climatesake.ca.