CATSKILL — Fourth grade students at Catskill Elementary School got their hands dirty Friday at the village’s inaugural Arbor Day celebration.
The event was organized by the Catskill Tree Council, which was founded in 2013. The council donated an Eastern Redbud, which was purchased from Skliba Tree Farm in Athens.
The tree was planted behind the elementary school in honor of the fourth grade class, which is moving up to the middle school, Catskill Tree Council Founder Hudson Talbott said.
“This project came about because the Tree Council wanted to get Catskill designated as a Tree City, USA, community by the National Arbor Day Foundation,” Talbott said. “One of the standards required to attain the honor is to hold an Arbor Day event, and today is our first Arbor Day in Catskill! We have been contacted by the Arbor Day Foundation who has awarded us this honor. It will go a long way in helping us qualify for grants for trees, tree care and management going forward.”
The redbud will grow to be 20 to 25 feet tall, Talbott said.
“It’s a native species, which is one of the reasons why we picked it,” he said.
Elementary School principal John Rivers read a proclamation to commemorate the occasion.
“Today is Arbor Day, a celebration of trees and all that they provide for us and our world,” Rivers said. “With gratitude and appreciation, Catskill recognizes the following: trees are a very important of the living web of nature; trees provide oxygen — they are the lungs of our planet; trees are homes for birds and other wildlife; trees hold eroding soil together; trees provide shade, counter noise and air pollution; trees make people happy and healthy; and trees provide beauty for Catskill’s children, residents and visitors — they are the pride of our community.”
The first Arbor Day was held in 1872, Talbott said, adding that this is the first Arbor Day celebration he is aware of being held in Catskill.
Anna Harrod-McGrew of Cornell Cooperative Extension led an activity for the students where volunteers got to act out the many different parts of a tree.
The students received germination kits put together by the Friends of Clermont Historic Site.
The council is also working on conducting a tree inventory this summer, Talbott said.
“We just completed our fund drive to cover the cost of the tree inventory and Arbor Day and raised our goal amount of $10,000 within two months,” Talbott said. “This indicates the local support we have for our work taking care of the community’s trees.”
The council received support from the Catskill Local Development Corporation, Stewart’s Shops, Heart of Catskill Association and the Fortnightly Club of Catskill, Talbott said.
The council has planted over 70 trees on Main Street over the past eight years, Talbott said.