SESArborDayOriginally Published The Nugget News May 3, 2016
Author Jodi Schneider McNamee

Planting trees each Arbor Day is a Sisters tradition. This year, three classes of kindergarteners planted chokecherry trees in front of Sisters ElementarySchool (SES).

The National Arbor Day Foundation awards and recognizes communities who work to improve urban forestry.

“We got the Growth Award again from Tree City USA. They have pretty high standards that you have to meet,” said public works project coordinator, Nichole Abbenhuis. “They look into a lot different things, such as our overall tree care and the ratio of tree removal versus tree planting. We have three hardy chokecherry trees and each kindergarten class will help plant and water them.”

The chokecherry is closely related to the black cherry. Chokecherries were the most important fruit in several Native American tribes as it was not only used for food but for medicinal purposes as well, including the treatment of fevers and colds.

Before the celebration began SES Principal Becky Stoughton read a poem to students, “The Summer Day,” by Mary Oliver.

Then the enthusiastic students, supervised by their teachers and public works employees, took turns shoveling dirt around the roots of the tree, as Sisters City Forester Dan Galecki held up the trees. Several students stomped on the ground to ensure the tree wasn’t going to fall.

“This day helps the kids understand where they are living,” Galecki said. “The chokecherry is native to Oregon and there are a few varieties of cherry trees in the area and these should do very well here.”

The young students are already learning how nature impacts their lives and how they impact nature.

“Dan greatly contributed to our growth award. He does inventory and keeps an eye out for sick trees and ones that are in danger,” Abbenhuis said.

Sisters City Council President Nancy Connelly joined in the celebration to thank all the students for helping make Arbor Day so special.

“It’s ironic me being here today,” Connelly told The Nugget. “They recognize me as Miss Nancy because I work here with the SES students four hours a day as a teacher’s assistant and spend 30 minutes with the kindergarteners.”

The very first American Arbor Day took place in Nebraska City, Nebraska, founded by J. Sterling Morton on April 10, 1872.