Sisters Middle School students celebrated the planting of four deciduous trees in town, assisted by the City of Sisters Public Works Department.
 photo by Sue Stafford
Sisters Middle School students celebrated the planting of four deciduous trees in town, assisted by the City of Sisters Public Works Department. photo by Sue Stafford
Under a cloudless blue sky and tender spring sun, 10 middle school leadership students, all seventh-grade girls, put their backs into planting four deciduous trees in Fir Street Park in celebration of Arbor Day on April 26.

Accompanied by leadership teacher Becky Aylor, the girls walked from the middle school to the park and back. Sisters Mayor Chuck Ryan greeted them and read the Arbor Day proclamation prior to the girls picking up their shovels and getting to work.

Four trees from the City’s own nursery were chosen to replace a pine tree that had to be removed. As the trees grow, they will provide a bit of shade and some screening of the alley that runs between the park and the Sinclair gas station.

After digging the holes, with the help of public works staff the girls planted two crabapple trees, one linden tree, and one serviceberry. The trees will provide springtime blossoms, and leaves that will provide some fall color.

Every year, a different group of students is asked to participate in the planting ceremony.

Each year the City is presented with a flag denoting the designation Tree City USA and it is flown on one of the City’s flagpoles. This is the City’s 12th year earning the title.

The Arbor Day Foundation, in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters, recognizes over 5,500 communities nationwide. The Tree City USA award recognizes the City’s commitment to effective urban forest management by meeting the program’s four requirements: a tree board or department (Sisters’ Urban Forestry Board), a tree-care ordinance, an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita, and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.

The Arbor Day Foundation is a million-member nonprofit conservation and education organization with the mission to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. More information can be found at www.arborday.org.

The public works department staff is proud of their tree nursery where they grow a variety of trees, both evergreen and deciduous, to meet the need for trees throughout the city as old trees die and need to be replaced, as well as new areas developing and needing street trees for the public rights-of-way. Staff indicated they have a project coming up in which they will be planting over a hundred ponderosa pines as there are so many currently distressed and dying.

This year’s leadership class has been responsible for planning, organizing, and conducting a wide variety of extracurricular activities at the middle school including Veteran’s Day observances, dances, assemblies, the carnival, talent show, and Seven Habits of Healthy Teens. They also produce the Outlaw News once a week and a link is provided to YouTube so parents and others can also view it.

Aylor knew all the girls who forecast to take the leadership class. She was their sixth-grade language arts teacher, so it was like a year-long interview process. Students are evaluated on their character, teamwork, contributions, and how well they finish a project. Aylor said that creativity is more important in the class than top grades. This year, her time is split between the middle school and the high school. Her enthusiasm and energy is contagious among the girls. Before leaving the park, she reminded them to acknowledge and thank the adults who had assisted in their planting efforts.