Fourth Graders Plant 40 Trees in Kahoa Park

A Lincoln park is home to 40 new trees thanks to a group of budding arborists at Kahoa Elementary School. The school’s fourth grade classes worked with volunteers from Lincoln Parks and Recreation, the Arbor Day Foundation, Northeast High School and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for the planting day May 8 at nearby Kahoa Park.

Working in two shifts, the planting teams watched a demonstration from Parks and Recreation staff before donning work gloves donated by the Arbor Day Foundation and dispersing throughout the park. Students and volunteers worked to loosen each tree’s root ball, set it at the proper depth and cover the roots with soil.

Some of Kahoa’s most ambitious fourth graders even took charge of moving mulch-filled wheelbarrows to each newly planted tree.

Students reminded each other to leave the root collar at the base of the trunk exposed for airflow, took turns scooping soil and brainstormed names for each of their trees. These ranged from “Cherry” to “Chandler Bing” to “The Lorax,” and will inspire students to continue visiting their trees and admiring this project’s impact as they grow.

The groups cooled off in the shade once planting was done and learned about career paths related to trees from some of the day’s volunteers.

Forestry lecturer Ann Powers shared details about the arboriculture and tree identification classes she teaches at UNL and Pete Smith, urban forestry program manager with the Arbor Day Foundation, described his role in bringing information and trees into communities just like Kahoa’s.

Both groups of fourth graders were especially interested in hearing about Kaylyn Neverve’s work as a park planner for Lincoln Parks and Recreation. Neverve described the process to redesign the playground at Kahoa Park, which included selecting area-appropriate tree species like bur oak, triumph elm and serviceberry in preparation for the planting day.

This idea of planting the right tree in the right place echoed what Kahoa students learned at a schoolwide assembly the week prior.

Professor Elwood Pricklethorn paid the school a visit just after Arbor Day and brought students up to speed on how trees grow and the many functions they can serve, as well as how to protect the young trees that would soon take root in the park.

Kahoa recently submitted an application for Tree Campus K-12 recognition and hopes to celebrate the accomplishment this coming fall. They are the first LPS elementary school to apply, joining Northeast High School as the district’s second application overall.

We at LPS Sustainability are so excited to see students connect learning with action in a way that will have a lasting impact on their school and their community! None of this would have been possible without support from all the day’s volunteers, as well as Kahoa Elementary School’s staff, students and families.