When David Tupa moved from teaching at Gibraltar for 23 years to Southern Door Middle School this academic year, he took with him a tradition of taking students on an Arbor Day tree-planting field trip.
Tupa is the earth science and STEAM teacher at Southern Door Middle School, and the annual tree-planting expedition is part of his goals to instill a greater awareness of the world and inspire students to become passionate about conservation.
“Over the years, I have enjoyed taking my Ecology Club students from Gibraltar on annual Arbor Day tree-planting field trips,” he said. “Now that I am teaching at Southern Door, I wanted to continue the tradition of involving students in this experience. Throughout the winter, I have been coordinating with the Nature Conservancy, Door County Land Trust and our Southern Door administration to provide this experience for our students.”
Involving the young has long been at the heart of Arbor Day. The first American Arbor Day took place in Nebraska in 1872, but in 1907, banker and conservationist Major Israel McCreight convinced President Theodore Roosevelt to embark on a campaign to involve the nation’s youth in conservation education, prompting Roosevelt to issue his “Arbor Day Proclamation to the School Children of the United States.”
Here’s an excerpt from the proclamation: “A people without children would face a hopeless future; a country without trees is almost as helpless; forests which are so used that they can not renew themselves will soon vanish, and with them all their benefits. … When you help to preserve our forests or plant new ones you are acting the part of good citizens.”
This year’s Southern Door Arbor Day adventure on a sunny Friday, April 26, was held on Seth and Julie Wilson’s property, just south of Sturgeon Bay.
“My students qualified for the field trip by writing Arbor Day essays, explaining why it is important to plant trees and why it is important that they participate in this experience,” Tupa said.
Twenty-five students took part in the tree planting and geology lessons from area experts: Bob Bultman with the Forest Recovery Project provided trees and expert knowledge of planting techniques, and Brian Forest with Door County Soil and Water provided expert knowledge of karst topography and the rate of water movement through it.
Chris Olson from the Door County Land Use Department provided support and snacks. Coggin Heeringa from Crossroads at Big Creek lent equipment. Sara Windjue from UW-Stevens Point provided support and promotion. Mike Toneys volunteered to plant, and Katie Krouse from the Climate Coalition of Door County and The Ridges Sanctuary organized the logistics, including providing lunch donated by Wild Tomato Pizza and cookies from Piggly Wiggly.