Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Florida Arbor Day Tree Planting Event

This past Saturday January 10th 2009, we celebrated Florida Arbor Day with a volunteer tree planting and an outdoor exhibition. The trees for the planting were provided by a grant to MOSI through a partnership of the USDA Forest Service, the Florida Division of Forestry and the National Football League to promote urban reforestation in the Tampa Bay Watershed in conjunction with Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa Bay.

The real stars of the day were 80 plus volunteers who pre-registered to help us plant 120 trees in the Back Woods and Bioworks Butterfly Garden. (Many of our volunteers found out about us through the great efforts of the folks at Keep Hillsborough County Beautiful.)

The volunteers stepped up to the challenge of matching names and color codes of half a dozen different species of trees and finding pre-flagged locations in the Back Woods to plant them.

The volunteers made short work of their individual planting tasks, returning to the staging area again and again looking for more plants to get in the ground.

Scout Pack 78 St Francis of Assisi single handedly tackled 10 15 gallon trees in the butterfly garden. Those young men and their leaders did an absolutely awesome job! Hopefully we will be working with these powerhouses in the future in the Back Woods.

Volunteers found many other ways to make an impact in addition to the planting. New friend to the Back Woods, volunteer Rich, brought an entire collection of tree and brush cutting tools. Rich undertook felling a massive invasive exotic tree in the forest that had been killed by herbicide treatments. (pictures soon) Thank you Rich! Another group offered clean-up service in the Back Woods. A pile of 40 plus tires along the trail pulled from the brush is proof of their days work, awesome (pictures soon)! Another new friend to the Back Woods, volunteer David, has offered to outfit our gator with a water tank to help establish all the trees planted. WOW, thank you David! And can not forget to thank regular MOSI volunteers Hands On Tampa Bay who staffed our volunteer check in and helped with the event set up and staffing.

Exhibitors for the celebration included Keep Hillsborough County Beautiful (KHCB), Florida Division of Forestry (FLDOF), University of Florida Plant City, Society of American Foresters(Caribbean Chapter), A-1 Assets, and One Source.
Pat DePlasco of KHCB had t-shirts for all of our volunteers and spent the day sharing information on litter prevention and clean-up. Carrie Kotal, Polk County Forester, represented the Florida Division of Forestry bringing with her Smokey the Bear and another forester on call for wildfire situations with his cool ride. Dr. Martin Wortman was on hand from UF to share info that the University of Florida has a satellite campus in Plant City where you can pursue a 4 year degree from UF in Natural Resource Conservation or Agriculture Education without ever going to Gainesville. Certified arborist Annie from One Source was on hand to discuss tree maintenance. One Source Management, Inc, our grounds company, also graciously sponsored the materials to offer a bird seed craft for our littler guests. A-1 Assets was on hand to offer small electronics recycling for our guests. And the Caribbean Chapter of the Society of American Foresters offered a selection of native tree seedlings for sale as part of their annual scholarship fundraising.

Special thanks also go out to many who helped by lending us the tools to make the day possible. MOSI employees contributed a nearly a dozen shovels to the task. Landscape design firm Plant Adoption Landscape, Inc lent out their entire compliment of shovels to us for the day. And the real heroes were the Special Events Team of Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation who filled in the gap by bringing enough shovels and rakes to put a tool in every volunteer’s hands. Park Ranger Charles Moss also kept track of all our tools and resupplied volunteers with materials throughout the day.

Additional thanks go out to some special friends who helped make this day possible; Mindy Moss (Consulting Forester: NRPS) who was invaluable in helping me promote and stage this event, Erin Givens (Continuing Education Coordinator Hillsborough Community College - Plant City Campus) who was my crack photographer for the day, Walter Givens who tackled all my last minute staging craziness with a smile, Lisa Leonard MOSI Events and Promotions Coordinator who helped turn a planting into an event, Kristen Gilpin MOSI Bioworks Butterfly Garden and her volunteers, T.J. Couch and his "deuce and a half", and Will Moriaty of T.R.E.E. Inc. who has worked diligently to coordinate the all the parties involved in the NFL tree planting initiative and has promoted reforestation in Tampa Bay for over 20 years.

I am sure there are many more I may have missed unintentionally; Thank you all for participating and contributing to habitat restoration in the Back Woods.


Chuck Lippstreu said...

This is incredibly cool! I'd love to get in touch for a short interview for our Arbor Day Foundation blog, if that's possible. Drop me an email -- clippstreu@arborday.org.


Carolyn said...

Thanks Chuck! It truly was terrific day!

Environmental Awareness Training said...

This looks fun! Helping the environment is really heart-warming if you ask me. You'll should be given a gift or something for your efforts.