n recognition of Arbor Day, third-graders at Sinai Elementary School gathered in the cafeteria to attend a presentation prepared by Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative’s arborist, Ray DeJarnette.
DeJarnette and MEC co-worker Randy Whirley shared with the students the importance and benefits of trees to our environment and the contributions that trees make. The children had an opportunity to examine tree samples and were encouraged to count the rings to determine the approximate age of the tree. As a memento of the lecture, they each received a crafted wooden block stamped with MEC’s tree insignia. Following the classroom learning session, the group moved outdoors and observed as Seth Bowen of Green Acres Landscaping instructed students on successful tree-planting techniques. The students then assisted in planting a dogwood tree in their own schoolyard. The class was encouraged to watch this sapling grow as they continued their education at Sinai Elementary and years into the future.
Third-graders at Sinai Elementary School learn from Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative employees Ray DeJarnette (left) and Randy Whirley that they can count the rings of a tree sample to determine the approximate age of the tree.
MEC’s program is designed to aid students in meeting Virginia’s Standards of Learning (SOL) in a practical method as employees of the Cooperative share their daily experience and knowledge of trees. Whirley comments, “Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative provides an Arbor Day program each spring at various elementary schools in Southside Virginia; this is the first year that I have assisted. The time we spent with the third-graders at Sinai was great! They were enthusiastic and excited… They showed a lot of interest and learned a lot about trees and their importance to our environment.”
The Arbor Day Foundation was created in 1972 with the mission to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees, and MEC has been an active member for seven years. The Foundation’s Tree Line USA® program recognizes best practices in public and private utility arboriculture, demonstrating how trees and utilities can co-exist for the benefit of communities and citizens. For the past four years, MEC has been named a Tree Line USA utility in recognition of its quality tree care, worker training, tree planting, and public education.
Sinai Elementary School students are pictured with the dogwood tree planted in their schoolyard by Seth Bowen of Green Acres Landscaping and Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative employees Randy Whirley and Ray DeJarnette during an Arbor Day celebration.