Trail of Trees
MCES students hear Arbor Day presentation on trees
The beat of a drum followed by a roomful of students clapping in response began a performance highlighting the importance of trees.
Fourth and fifth graders at Morgan County Elementary School (MCES) had a treat, a tree treat that is: Tim Womick presented his “Trail of Trees” program to them last Wednesday in honor of Arbor Day.
Students filed in, tapping their hands against their legs and nodding their heads. One even exclaimed, “Oh, yeah!”
Womick called on various students throughout the performance, directing them again and again, “Tell me something good trees give us?”
Students responded in turn: paper, wood, oxygen, food, cellulose, shade, animal habitats, jobs, and medicines.
For each response Womick shared a factoid or handed a student a prop. He pointed out that trees give us paper, which we use to make books, while books give us knowledge. Knowledge in turn leads to power.
He urged them to learn all they can.
“You’ll be glad you did,” he said.
Womick used props – from an African drum to tree seeds – to encourage students to be stewards of the earth. He dressed one student as a tree and gave students the proper name for each part: crown, trunk, and roots.
Another student he adorned in sunglasses while yet another he covered in stuffed animals.
Toward the end of his performance Womick challenged students.
“I ask you to get up as a different person,” he said, urging them to be interested in science and the environment. “Really, really look at trees. I challenge you to make it a better place because you live in it.”
Fifth grade teacher Patrick Tice said he enjoyed the performance.
“I loved it,” he said. “He’s Jim Carrey’s cousin, right?”
According to information provided about Womick, the Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC) sponsors these performances in Georgia.
Joan Scales, Community Forester with GFC, said that Womick does a “fantastic job.”
“His passion for trees and protecting the environment comes through with every performance and with everything he does,” she shared.
In a later interview Womick said that he used to be a complicated consumer, meaning he thought material things would bring him happiness.
“I let so many other things wash to the side and I missed a lot,” he said. “I just totally lost sight of what really was important.”
During a visit to Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest in North Carolina Womick said the trees spoke to him.
“They said, ‘We are special and we want you to tell people about us,’” he said. “They are simple things but what they do is complicated.”
He spoke about visiting other places in the country and how those places have more asphalt than trees. He gestured toward the window and the trees visible on the MCES campus.
“We need to realize what we have in Georgia,” he said, noting that in places like Los Angeles there is a group that has sued the city to reclaim green space.
According to Scales, Womick has done this program through the GFC for about 20 years.
“When he first started, he would actually run from school to school and plant a tree at each one,” she shared. “Hence the name, Trail of Trees.”
Scales shared that students really seem to enjoy his presentations.
“His programs are such a hit, that every school that has hosted one of his performances has always asked if he could come back again the following year,” she shared.
Piga noted that the fourth and fifth grade students are learning or have learned about ecology and the environment.
To prepare for the visit students learned about Arbor Day, how to plant the tree seedling, and the type of trees planted at the school.
They also read the poem that inspired Womick: “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer. That poem begins, “I think that I shall never see / A poem lovely as a tree.”
Scales noted the goals of the program.
“Our purpose in sponsoring these programs is to try and give people a greater appreciation for trees and all the benefits they provide – clean air, clean water, economic value, shade, products, etc.” she shared.
Fourth grade MCES teacher Sally Piga said that Mike Bowers donated about 250 pine seedlings, one for each of the participating fourth grade students to take home and plant.
Also, as local sponsor of the event, the Greenspace Commission (GSC) donated Arbor Day wristbands to those same students and planted two larger trees on the school campus.
The GSC had an Arbor Day Proclamation read during the Monday night meeting of the Madison Mayor and Council. They also planted a tree at the Gilmore House on Burney Street at 11:30 a.m. Friday.
Did you know?
Tim Womick shared the following factoids during his Trail of Trees program last Wednesday.
• Trees give us paper, wood, oxygen, food, cellulose, shade, animal habitats, jobs, and medicines.
• Forestry accounts for $25 billion in the State of Georgia.
• Humans take 24,000 breaths a day. Thanks to trees, those breaths of oxygen are cleaner than they would be without trees to filter the air of pollution particulates.
• Every American makes 2.3 tons of carbon dioxide per year. The hardest working tree can only absorb carbon dioxide at a rate of 13 pounds per year.
• Cellulose is the most abundant organic matter on planet Earth.
• There are only seven memorial forests in the country. The Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest where Womick first understood the importance of trees is one.
• Georgia celebrates Arbor Day the third Friday in February. This year it fell on Feb. 15.
• The top of a tree is its crown while the bottom most part of a tree is its roots. In between is a tree’s trunk.
Printed in the February 21, 2013 edition