by Austin Dart and Kaylee Bandstra
Biology Teacher Audra Faber executed a plan this fall to save more than $134,000 for the school in the next sixty years. Trees For Kids, a grant available from the Iowa DNR, provides dollars for planting trees on school property and other public land.
Faber applied for, and was granted, $5,000 to pay for 54 new trees on the PC campus, given she followed certain rules. She had to have a plan in place for someone to continually water and mulch the trees for several years. “Right now, I’m the gal in charge of doing this or finding volunteers to help me do this,” Faber said.
In order to receive this grant, Faber had to demonstrate that these trees could be used for educational purposes. The Biology 2 students were in charge of planting and over seeing other student volunteers. “I had to train them really well. There’s a right way to plant a tree out of a container and a wrong way. They were put in charge of two to three sophomores and other seniors from my other classes,” said Faber. She also provided ideas for how the trees could be of educational assistance for math classes, industrial arts, and art.
Each tree was chosen with careful reasoning. Bur Oaks were chosen for the prairie to give the animals an oak savannah habitat. “Bur Oaks can survive a burn, so we can burn the prairie without harming the trees,” Faber said.
Other trees, like Norway Spruce, were chosen as windbreaks, to save energy, and to reduce sound and CO2 emissions in various locations on campus. “This will reduce sound pollution coming from the highway,” Faber explained.
Trees planted around the school will also be used for a windbreak, to reduce sound pollution, increase pollination, decrease energy bills, and for beauty. “The maples are really for aesthetic beauty, so students in the library can enjoy those fall colors,” Faber said.
The trees will take sixty years to fully grow, if they survive and are well cared for. Costs savings to the school will include absorbing stormwater, saving electricity, and reducing the heating bill. “We are thrilled to have our grant approved and grateful for this opportunity to improve our campus, and increase our stewardship of God’s world,” Faber said.
In addition to the cost savings, projects like Faber’s benefit students themselves in a multitude of ways. According to the Iowa DNR website, studies show trees planted around schools and in neighborhoods give youth increased levels of concentration, lower levels of aggression, lower levels of obesity and fewer symptoms of ADHD.
The Iowa Trees for Kids program is funded by Alliant Energy, MidAmerican Energy Company, Black Hills Energy, ITC Holdings Corporation, Trees Forever, Iowa Woodland Owners Association, and Iowa Bankers Association.