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Illinois hunting and fishing

University of Illinois Springfield student Clarissa Caspar gets help coaxing a sapling through a protective plastic sleeve Friday while planting trees for Arbor Day. Photo by David Spencer/The State Journal-Register.

UIS students plant Arbor Day trees in Carpenter, Gurgens parks

April 28, 2012 at 10:13 AM

The State Journal-Register

More than 200 University of Illinois Springfield students Friday found that it’s easier being green than Kermit the Frog would lead us to believe.

As part of UIS’s Springfest celebration and to commemorate Arbor Day, the students planted 3,500 native saplings in open spaces at Carpenter and Gurgens parks north of Springfield.

“We had 550 students registered for Springfest, and this is a service project part of it where the students accumulate points for their teams,” said Mark Dochterman, director of the UIS Volunteer & Civic Engagement Center.

Although the parks are forest preserves, large areas in them lack trees. The planting of pin oak, red oak, white oak and black oak saplings, as well as shagbark hickory trees, will help reclaim about 10 acres of open land.

The planting project provides a valuable service to the Springfield Park District while teaching students about sustainability and engaging them in environmental responsibility.

“I’m a biology major and I like the environment,” said Francisco Mendez, a UIS senior from Mexico. ”It’s nice to help out.”

Mendez said the rest of his team tells him he’s a natural in tree planting.

“We’re all friends,” said Sinem Aydin, a senior from Springfield. “We can see who actually knows how to plant trees.”

UIS student Paige Heiser spent the afternoon shuttling students from The Rail Golf Course parking lot to where the trees were being planted.

She said 38 teams of 15 students each had signed up for Springfest, which ends today with sports day.

The saplings were donated by an East Moline-based non-profit group, Living Lands & Waters, as part of its Million Trees project, which began in 2007 as a way to restore the natural environment. The saplings are grown at a nursery in Beardstown.

Dochterman said Joan Buckles, the UIS horticulturist, showed students how the trees should be planted and arranged for a water truck.

Bunn-O-Matic Corp. will help purchase biodegradable tree guards to protect the saplings from wildlife. The Rail Golf Course provided parking, and Carter Bros. Lumber Co. provided shuttle service.

***

Civic Garden Club

Each year, the Springfield Civic Garden Club plants a tree in a local park to commemorate Arbor Day.

The tree this year was planted in Centennial Park, with help from third-graders from Calvary Academy.

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