If the drawing of the smiling girl standing in front of a rainbow and a tree weren’t enough to convey the impact of a Virginia Cooperative Extension program in the City of Chesapeake, then the writing underneath it did.
“Thank you for our katsura tree. You are awesome and great. I wish I was a tree planter like you,” a first-grader named Jenesis wrote in neat, tight handwriting. “Trees are beautiful to me!”
It was just one of the many thank-you notes that Extension Horticulture Agent Mike Andruczyk has received since launching the What is a Tree program that teaches students — many of who have never planted anything in their lives – about the value of trees.
The program is run through the Chesapeake Master Gardener program and has made a big difference in the community over the years. It works with school children to teach them the value of trees and has planted more than 70 at schools. The Master Gardeners also work with adults throughout the city to plant trees and do demonstrations in neighborhoods where there is low canopy coverage. They have planted more than 100 at homes around the city.
The City of Chesapeake has a tree canopy ordinance, so the program helps by not only working with adults to plant trees, but also trains the next generation of stewards like Jenesis.
“It’s very rewarding to work with so many who are so excited to help beautify their communities,” said Andruczyk, who relishes the chance to interact with students. “When we ask if they are going to water take care of their tree each class yells a resounding yes! Which always makes us smile and feel great we came!”