By Alex Bridges -- firstname.lastname@example.org
WOODSTOCK -- Sugar maple seedlings may look like short sprigs, but thanks to an Arbor Day initiative dozens of pupils can grow the plants into new trees.
W.W. Robinson Elementary School pupils in second and third grades on Friday received seedlings as part of the Woodstock Tree Board and the town's seventh annual Arbor Day observance. Woodstock is a designated Tree City USA.
Board Chairwoman Joan Comanor spoke to pupils as she and Town Mayor Jeremy McCleary handed out seedlings to the classes.
As Comanor explained, the Town Council in the fall implemented a plan to increase the tree canopy coverage in Woodstock by at least eight percent in the next 10 years. The effort will include more activities to promote tree planting.
"In the past when we've had some of the evergreens like the Norway spruce ... they were big enough they could go directly into the ground," Comanor said.
The tree used this year needs extra care for its size, as the board chairwoman told pupils.
"He's a really little guy this year," Comanor told pupils in Mary Kent's third-grade class.
Several pupils told Comanor about their own family's "green thumbs" with home gardens and plantings.
Each child received a seedling and a coloring sheet as well as a message on what Arbor Day symbolizes, according to J.L. Lehnen, area forester with the Virginia Department of Forestry. Teachers also receive a packet of materials.
Seedlings came with information on how take care of the plant.
As Comanor explained to Lauren Kaye's class and others, because of the size of the seedling, organizers recommended pupils plant the trees in a flower pot and keep them in the holder for a year. Then the trees may be replanted outdoors in the ground.
The sugar maple grows in the United States and Canada, according to Comanor. The tree is famous as a source of maple syrup, she told the class, and the wood is used in many products.
"This goes along with our curriculum so well," said third-grade teacher Mary Kent, adding that McCleary's visit also coincides with their lessons on local government.
Woodstock purchased the seedlings and students in the Future Farmers of America chapter at Central High School packaged the plants for distribution.
"It's just a really good cooperative program," Lehnen said. "It's just a really good way to promote Arbor Day and tree planting."