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Students celebrate Arbor Day by planting trees
Yuma tree-huggers came out of the woodwork for Arbor Day as the city celebrated its third year as a designated Tree City USA.
Stacey Bealmear, chairperson of the city's tree board, welcomed more than 100 who attended the festivities in Gateway Park that included students from Alice Byrne and Yuma Lutheran schools. Bealmear thanked Arizona Public Service (APS) and All-Star Tree service for their sponsorship as well as her fellow tree board members, Bryan Collins, John Jackson and Jeannie Wilson.
The main focus of the event was to educate the public on the importance of trees, Bealmear stressed.
"Trees make our town look nice and they definitely improve property values because they'll help attract new businesses when they see so many trees."
In order for Yuma to qualify as a Tree City USA, the town had to have an arborist, a tree board, a city ordinance for tree care, and an Arbor Day event, Bealmear said.
"Even though people don't think of trees when they think of Yuma we have a lot of trees and I'm proud the city wants to take care of them."
David Faires, Parks & Recreation Urban Forestry Division's arborist, said it was a great opportunity for the students to learn about trees. The trees are a living, breathing organism and just because they are stationary does not mean they should be mistreated.
He stressed, that no one should randomly carve initials or peal bark because it exposes tress to disease. He also said, that some people seem to be in the habit of ruining new saplings, breaking them in two, which is vandalism just like graffiti.
"Tree City USA shows this town cares enough about tree resources to make them safe and attractive. It actually reduces the city's liability when we keep trees trimmed because that way, before a storm hits, it keeps everybody's property safe."
Beth Joynt, a Yuma Lutheran School science teacher, brought her class out to Gateway to focus not only on the environment but guidance too.
"It was a great opportunity to introduce students to leadership. People think leadership is speaking to groups but service to the community is at the heart of it."
Mckenna Mellon, 12, a Yuma Lutheran 6th grade student, said it was a privilege to be out at Gateway planting trees to help the environment. She added, trees are important to Yuma because they provide habitat for animals.
"I'm a big animal lover and any time I can make a home for animals it's good."
And classmate, Alec Valenzuela, 12, a 7th grade student, said, it felt good to be helping out the community by planting trees and the trees help keep the soil from eroding.
"At our house we grow carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, squash, and eat everything we grow. It feels awesome to garden because you're growing life."
City Councilman Cody Beeson read a proclamation declaring Yuma a Tree City USA and noted trees mean a lot to the city because they provide shade during long, hot summers.
Instructing students on how to to properly plant a tree was Parks & Recreation employee Angel Medel, who said it was really nice to show children the proper way to plant trees because it teaches them responsibility and how to treat all plants when in the park so they last a lifetime.
Chole Naquin, 11, a Yuma Lutheran student who helped with the plantings, said Arbor Day made her feel really good.
"I love the trees. They clear out the air by giving back oxygen and give us shade."
William Roller can be reached at wroller@yuma sun.com or 539-6858.