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Rockford East Campus Adds 90 Shrubs and Trees, Thanks to Student Work and Local Nursery

East High School students have chosen and planted native trees and shrubs on their campus, taking on the role of landscape designers and horticulturists.

For more than a decade, students enrolled in Dustin Long’s environmental science and horticulture classes – or participants in East’s Key Club – have researched, chosen and planted about 10 trees a year. The need for landscaping has recently grown because of the school’s field house, addition and parking lot expansion, coupled with the loss of several mature ash trees. This school year, the campus gained another 90 shrubs and trees, following the students’ research and design plan.

Students enrolled in Dustin Long’s environmental science and horticulture classes or participants in East’s Environmental Key Club have researched, chosen and planted about 10 trees a year. (Photo courtesy of East High School Student Publications.)

Students enrolled in Dustin Long’s environmental science and horticulture classes or participants in East’s Environmental Key Club have researched, chosen and planted about 10 trees a year. (Photo courtesy of East High School Student Publications.)

There’s a lot that goes into landscape design. “It’s really about carefully selecting the right tree for the right place,” Long said. Students research native trees that will thrive in Rockford. They’ve studied soil types, sunlight, and estimated mature trees’ height and width. Students are also diversifying the campus’s tree population to avoid another potential wipe-out, like from the Emerald Ash Borer or Dutch elm disease.

Students are diversifying the campus’s tree population to avoid another potential wipe-out – like from the Emerald Ash Borer or Dutch elm disease. (Photo courtesy of East High School Student Publications.)

Students are diversifying the campus’s tree population to avoid another potential wipe-out – like from the Emerald Ash Borer or Dutch elm disease. (Photo courtesy of East High School Student Publications.)

The hands-on lessons are thanks to Beaver Creek Nursery, a wholesale nursery and commercial tree distributor in Poplar Grove. The company has generously donated locally grown trees to East every year – approximately 200 species in the last 12 years. Long will share letters from East students and a certificate to thank them for their continued support and donations.

Long says the project has not only improved the school’s environment, it teaches students the value of environmental stewardship. It also aligns with the Rockford Public Schools’ College and Career Academies. Environmental science and horticulture fit into the Human and Public Services Academy, and Beaver Creek Nursery is one of dozens of community partners that support RPS 205.

Cathy Bayer is communications specialist for the Rockford Public Schools. Click here  to subscribe to this blog. Also, please like RPS 205 on  Facebook  and follow us on  Twitter  and Instagram.

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