May elementary students learn and grow for Friday.

Little sprouts at May Elementary School planted some seedlings of their own Friday at an outdoor school on SC Arbor Day.

Scheduled for the first Friday in December, SC Arbor Day differs from the national observation of trees in the environment in April. In April, Kindergarten and first grade students planted 100 pine trees, but in the fall, all but one seed did not germinate – they could not grow yet.

When Greenwood County Garbage Prevention Coordinator Amber Napier heard about the failed seedlings, she wanted to get to her room.

“I know there is a tree gift through Palmetto Pride,” she said. “Let’s plant another tree.”

Involved with members of the city’s horticultural team, she met with staff at the Clemson Extension Campus to help teach students why the pine tree they planted earlier in the year did not bear fruit. He took the opportunity to teach about the seven native trees – Redbuds and Tulip Poplar.

“Planting a tree is great, but I want people to know how to properly plant a tree,” Napier said.

SC Arbor Day is set for December because the trees are dormant and easy to plant, and it is rainy season. The trees that were planted on Friday were young leaves with no leaves, no soil, no plastic soil.

Stephanie Turner of the Clemson Extension Program told the students: “They don’t need a lot of water because they don’t have many leaves.

Curious students raised their hands and answered questions about why we should plant a tree. They help the environment, provide oxygen and feed the animals. Clemens Extension forest expert Tom Brant told them that wood products are sometimes used in toothpaste and ice cream.

So why did 99 of the pine trees planted in April fail to grow? Brent told the students that the seeds may have been buried.

“Often if you bury pine seeds, they will rot,” he said. Thousands and thousands of small seeds fall from these trees.

The seeds like to be planted in mineral soils, and like the pioneering species, they grow fast roots that quickly stabilize the soil below.

“Are they allowed to get their hands dirty?” Napier asked.

“Yes,” cried William, and all the adults laughed.

The students showed Brant, the city’s horticultural workers, a volunteer gardener and Turner how to make sure the well was deep enough to cover the top of the tree. The dark undergrowth of the soil, when the students screamed in the mud or asked why it was black, leaned forward to see the tree planted.

He helped the students dig a hole in the ground with their bare hands, gently rubbing the soil. Mulch circled the trees, and the students clapped their hands on the dusty, dry red clay.

William said he loved the tree, and I was thrilled to see it grow for years. Brother Breiden says he enjoys piles of rubbish.

“I liked that I had to get my hands dirty, and my mom would not tell me what to do, because she would not let me do it,” says Breeden.

Maice Principal Tiara Watson is thrilled to have given the children this opportunity to study abroad and to have a bright and timely warm day.

“We replaced our seedlings last year and they didn’t grow the way we wanted them to, so it was good to have our kindergarten and first grade students here again,” she says. “This is how they are learning and seeing all these different professions in science. Skills here in Greenwood.

Contact Staff Writer Damian Dominguez at 864-634-7548 or follow him on Twitter @IJDDOMINGUEZ.

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