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Print

Eighth graders pitch in to help parks

April 10, 2010 at 02:32 PM

SPRINGFIELD STATE JOURNAL-REGISTER

A group of eighth graders from Springfield had a chance to help the environment and discover a little fun outside on Friday.

Twenty-two students from Franklin Middle School, their science teachers and chaperones spent Friday morning planting trees at the Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area near Chandlerville.

After lunch, their teachers, K.C. Sullivan and Brett Troemper, took them on a hike through some nearby woods as a reward.
It was all part of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Earth Day in the Parks events that are being held all over the state through early May.

“What an event,” Sullivan said as his students ate lunch at a picnic shelter at the Prairie Lake campground. “This is great for them. A lot of these kids don’t have the opportunity to get out and experience a park like this.”

Jim Edgar Panther Creek is a multi-use park that provides recreation for hunters, anglers, cyclists, birders, canoeists, camping enthusiasts and even morel hunters.

The kids planted dozens of northern red oaks and a few evergreen trees.

Kids being kids, even the act of digging a hole had comedic value.
“I jumped on the shovel while we were digging and fell backwards into the hole,” Tyshiana Jackson said with a laugh.

But despite a misstep or two, Tyshiana could declare the mission accomplished.

“I helped plant that northern red oak over there,” she said, pointing to a freshly planted tree. “We planted some in the woods too. We just planted them all over the area — it was a really fun time.”

Around the state, kids are establishing brush piles to shelter wildlife, building bird nest boxes, creating butterfly gardens, removing invasive species of plants and replacing them with native wildflowers, shrubs and trees.

Earth Day in the Parks events are spread out over a period of weeks around the time of Earth Day, which is celebrated April 22.
During the hike around a patch of woods near the campground,

Sullivan pointed out different kinds of mushrooms and shushed the kids long enough so they could hear a red-winged blackbird call out.

“This is the most fun I’ve ever had in my life,” said Tyshiana, a new convert to the great outdoors.

But then she added a qualifier.

“The most fun that didn’t include shopping,” she said with a smile.

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