Gripping shovels with their little hands, more than a dozen Newington Elementary School students dug into freshly turned soil in Newington Plantation Park to help plant a Nuttall Oak tree on Friday.
As the fourth and fifth-graders wrapped up the task, one child exclaimed with pride, “we planted a tree,” and other students beamed with satisfaction as they huddled around Faye Campbell, coordinator of the town’s annual Arbor Day celebration.
“One day you can come back here and see the tree you helped plant,” Campbell said.
Also participating in the celebration were residents, town staff members, Mayor Wiley Johnson, Councilwoman Kima Garten-Schmidt, members of the Flowertown Garden Club, Summerville High School students and Pastor Bo Hamilton from Summerville Presbyterian Church.
Festivities included welcoming remarks from Vicki Burt, president of the Flowertown Garden Club. Hamilton gave the invocation as well as the benediction and blessing of the trees. Members of the Summerville High School Junior Navy ROTC did the presentation of colors and the Pledge of Allegiance was led by Chandler Careem Chisholm, a kindergartener from Beech Hill Elementary School. Jan Martin, Flowertown Garden Club member, sang the National Anthem. Johnson read the proclamation designating Dec. 6 as Arbor Day in Summerville.
Summerville has been designated a Tree City U.S.A. for the 38th year in a row. In her keynote address, Campbell said Summerville residents are fortunate to live in a town that cares about its trees. She spoke briefly about Summerville’s history as the first town in South Carolina to create a tree ordinance in 1847.
Campbell also shared highlights from recent research by scientists who are encouraged by the potential that trees have to reverse the negative impacts of climate change.
“Studies have been released that offer new hope that expanding forests- which hold carbon dioxide from the atmosphere- could make up for human’s toxic carbon emissions,” Campbell said.
Scientists have said global tree restoration is one of the most effective climate change solutions to date, Campbell said.
Bill Salisbury, arborist and natural resource planner for the town, gave a description of the Nuttall Oak to be planted in honor of Arbor Day. He said the tree grows to 60 feet in height and 45 feet in width. The Nuttall Oak has become a favorite type of tree for growers in the southern states because of its tolerance for a variety of conditions.
The Nutall Oak now occupies a space inside of the park where a previous tree stood until it was destroyed during a hurricane. Surrounding the new tree are other hardwoods including Magnolia, Sweet Gum, Willow Oak, and Maple.
Doyle Best, director of parks and recreation for the town, said the Nutall Oak is not the only tree that was planted in Summerville in honor of Arbor Day.
The Daughters of the American Revolution donated a Crepe Myrtle to be planted at Brown Family Park in Nexton.