SARANAC - In celebration of Earth Day last week, the New Land Trust gave away hundreds of trees to three area schools.
The NLT, a nonprofit organization created for the preservation, recreation and education of 287 acres of trails in Saranac, provided Morrisonville Elementary, Saranac Elementary and Peru Intermediate schools with 1,500 Evergreen Douglas Fir trees.
NLT member Kathy Cantwell said the donation was fitting with the organization's mission to "educate people about the Earth and to preserve it and to promote recreation."
"We're in Saranac and so we wanted the local schools in the area to be involved," Cantwell explained. "So, by providing the trees to kids, we're encouraging them to really notice the Earth and be a steward."
In honor of handing out the trees to students, the NLT held a tree planting ceremony April 19, in which Cantwell said many children came out to participate.
"One little boy ... he had his tree and his father was like, 'We have to go now,'" Cantwell recalled. "They got in the car and as he got in the car he was like, 'This is my best experience ever.'"
"To see a tree that's 2 years old and going to get to be 40-feet high, it just allows their imaginations to really soar," she added.
Douglas Yu, another member of NLT, said he is surprised how many children in the area "don't have a connection to nature."
"They live so close to it and this is just a way to really bring a good connection there," he said.
The trees donated to the area schools came from the Saratoga Tree Nursery in Saratoga Springs, which Cantwell said was sold to them at a reasonable price.
"So, it's affordable for us to do a project like this," she explained. "Although, in the future, I hope we can upgrade to a hardwood tree, like a maple or something. If we get enough donations and support for this, then I hope we can continue it."
Morrisonville Elementary principal Bradley J. Ott said he was "very appreciative to the folks in Saranac" and felt the experience was good for the students.
"To me, I look at it as a hands-on learning experience, which is the best kind of science, especially in elementary school," said Ott. "Children can actually interact and deal with a living thing and do some good for the environment at the same time."
For more information about the New Land Trust, visit www.newlandtrust.org.