Moore MST Magnet School students plant trees to help environment, gain hands-on knowledge
Tyler Morning Telegraph. Zak Wellerman. November 06, 2020.

After learning about the need to protect the environment in the classroom, eighth-grader Peyton Seal was proud to be a part of planting trees at her school, Tyler ISD’s Moore MST Magnet School, with classmates to make a difference in the world.

“I’ve learned that trees are very important for our environment,” Seal said. “People are tearing them down daily and if we would just plant one it can make a difference.”

She and her family even recently planted a tree at their house, and she said “it’s fun to watch them grow.”

“They will last a pretty long time if we take care of them,” Seal said.

She was just one of 27 eighth-grade environmental science students at Moore who planted nine trees Thursday ahead of Texas State Arbor Day in collaboration with the city of Tyler and Texas A&M Forest Service. The holiday is celebrated annually on the first Friday of November.

Dana Smith, Moore environmental science teacher, said the students just finished up learning about deforestation and the tragedy of the commons – a situation in a shared-resource system where individuals act in their own self-interests and deplete shared resources by acting against the common good.

After learning in the classroom, the students then gained hands-on knowledge by planting five trees in the school courtyard, two near the football field and two by the parking lot.

“I really want the students to know about the environment because it’s what takes care of us,” Smith said. “It’s hands-on experience. If you look at these trees now, think about 20 years from now.”

Seal said she’s thankful to have a school that cares about the environment.

Fellow classmate Jose Reyes also said he wants to continue planting trees after learning about the positive effects on the environment.

“It’s important to plant trees, and without trees we wouldn’t be living,” he said.

Angela Bennis, recreation manager for the city of Tyler, said each year the city staff reaches out to area schools to host an Arbor Day tree planting. She was happy to see Moore Middle express an interest in the project this year.

Tyler ISD, Moore Middle and the city of Tyler’s Trees Committee each funded the cost of three trees.

Bennis said the Tyler Trees Committee is a group of community members dedicated to planting trees in the city’s parks and schools. It was originally formed in 1989 due to the loss of trees in Bergfeld Park.

She added she hopes the students leave the planting with a desire to give back to the environment.

“We hope they continue to take care of trees and plant more trees,” Bennis said.

Led by Judith Guthrie, a retired judge and member of the trees committee, the students also took a pledge stating they would faithfully preserve and protect trees as well as plant at least one tree per year.

Guthrie has been a committee member for 30 years. She said her love for trees comes from growing up in Arizona, where there are no trees, and then moving to East Texas with a plentiful amount of green scenery.

When the students took the oath, they became tree marshals, according to Guthrie. The students then also signed a written pledge that will stay in the school’s trophy case.

“When people take an oath, they usually take it seriously,” she said.

Guthrie said by teaching kids the relevance of tree planting it helps continue the practice of taking care of the environment.

“They can bring their children one day,” Guthrie said. “In the year of blah that is 2020, we did something good for the environment and planted these trees.”

Smith also loved the pledge and commitment the students had to continue planting and caring for trees.

“If we can all pledge to plant one tree a year ... that’s the takeaway,” Smith said. “I want them to be responsible and take care of trees.”

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