LEAF Club Uses Grant Money to Launch Reforestation Effort

The Lakota East Enviromental Advocates Forum (LEAF Club) is using grant money to change the landscape around the school.

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LEAF club members plant a tree during last year’s annual tree planting event.

Zach Klaassen

STORY ZACH KLAASSEN | PHOTOGRAPHY USED WITH PERMISSION

The Lakota East Lakota East Environmental Advocates Forum (LEAF) Club has been getting grants from local companies to plant more trees around the school for the past several years. This initiative aims to decrease sound pollution, CO2 emissions, and encourages growth in the local environments.

“My hope is to have every student of mine plant at least a single tree as part of my class,” said Environmental Science teacher and LEAF club Advisor Mark Folta. “We’re really nowhere near close to the amount of diversity that we’d like to see out there. [Our progress is] currently around 10%, so we have around 90% to go. So that means a lot more trees.”

To accomplish this goal of having every student in his class plant a tree, Mr. Folta has worked with local companies for discounts, grants, and donations. Whether that’s grant money from Duke Energy or discounted products from Delhi Flower, Garden Center, and other local tree nurseries, he said they all play a role.

Beyond helping the environment, students feel like it’s a way for them to not only get involved but to contribute to a bigger cause. They know by helping this tree-growing project, they can leave some long-lasting positive impacts on the school. 

“It would be nice to look back and see what it’ll look like in the next 10 to 20 years. Whenever I come back here, I might be able to see a full-blown forest,” said Mia Hilkowitz, President of LEAf Club. “Over the last four years I’ve been able to see this forest grow back there, so I think that myself and others really like that aspect of [the tree planting]”

Students from all over the school like the planting as a way of getting some shade after school during the summer and early fall months. Of the hundred East students surveyed 74 said they’d like to simply see more shady spots around campus.

One student who said they wanted more shade includes East junior Vaughn Cheny. Cheny enjoys hanging out with friends outside in the warmer months and feels that the experience would get better if there was more shade around the school.

 “More trees would be nice. They look nice and during the summer months they provide some greatly needed shade,” Vaughn said.