Improvements: Creating Solutions for the Earth

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On April 21, 2018, 12 members of the Improvements family gathered together to unite with over 160 volunteers at the Cuyahoga (K AY – ah – H OH – g ah) Valley National Park (CVNP) to ring in the 48th Celebration of Earth Day. Improvements employees and their families spent their Saturday morning helping to plant 550 trees of varying native Ohio species, including American basswood, black cherry, shagbark hickory, and tulip poplar trees. Now, that’s a lot of hole digging!

Celebrating Earth Day

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Volunteers traveled near and far arriving at the event around 10:00 am. They gathered their gear (gloves, goggles, bug spray, and water) and hiked up, what some say, a large, muddy hill to the location where the planting was to occur. The area designated for planting trees used to be farmland. Any trees that used to be there were cut down and removed, leaving a vacant open space on top of a large hill.

Park rangers and biology professors from Kent State University briefed volunteers on the importance of the day’s event and safety precautions. The purpose of planting the different varieties of trees was to provide research material for graduate students from the Biological Sciences Department at KSU. Students will monitor the different trees (mentioned earlier) for the following:

  • Carbon and oxygen level impacts to the surrounding soil and water.
  • Root growth due to water availability or water runoff.
  • If they contracted any disease.

They want to see if certain trees can grow better in the area than other trees and why that is.

The different types of trees were planted in designated quadrants throughout the planting site to allow the grad students to monitor the trees and how they were performing accurately and efficiently.

After the brief education update, volunteers separated into two large groups. One to plant shagbark hickory trees and the other to plant American basswood; the Improvements team was part of the American basswood group. Once the two groups split, one of the park rangers demonstrated the proper way to plant a sapling. You may think, “how hard is it to plant trees?” but saplings are fragile, and you must handle them with care.

How to Plant a Tree

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First, you need to dig a large enough hole which could range in depth from 6”-12″. However, it depends on how much soil is left around the sapling when you remove it from its container. It also needs to be wide enough because you can’t have narrow holes.

Second, make sure the tree stands up straight. If the tree tilts, it will grow tilted. No tilted trees allowed!

Third, once the tree is inside the hole you dug, you fill it with enough soil to cover the roots so that the soil in the hole is now level to the surrounding area. It’s critical because you don’t want to create a moat around the tree or a small hill which could either drown or prevent the tree from water access. No moats or hills allowed!

Fourth and finally, press down on the dirt around the tree, so it’s nice and compact. Doing this ensures that the tree is stable and won’t fall from a strong gust of wind. No loose soil allowed!

See, planting trees isn’t as easy as it may seem.

The group then split off into teams of twos and threes: one person to carry the basswood sapling and the other to carry the shovel. The teams had to carry their newly gathered supplies and climb another hill so the digging and planting could begin. The ground was semi-soft because it had rained the previous days which made digging not too difficult. Unless that is, you hit a patch of clay, which was likely as the ground was a mixture of clay and topsoil.

As you planted you had to remember what you learned from the ranger:

  • Dig the hole.
  • Remove clay if necessary.
  • Place the tree inside and make sure it’s straight.
  • Cover roots, not too little or too much but just right.
  • Pat around the tree, so it’s nice and secure.

Once you planted your tree, you sent one member down the hill to get another sapling while someone dug the next hole. This process continued for all the teams until every single designated tree was planted.

An Environmentally Friendly and Evergreen Volunteer Opportunity

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The Basswood Team proved to be quite efficient as we planted all designated 125 American basswood trees in under 3 hours! That’s a lot of holes and trees.

Another hike back to the parking lot and the successful event wrapped up. The 163 volunteers planted 500 trees and completed over 700 hours of community service. Now that’s an Earth Day Celebration!

The Earth Day event for the Improvements team served to be one of the best community service activities held by the company. It was a fantastic opportunity to get outside, spend time with coworkers and family and be part of something bigger than yourself.

Volunteering at CVNP was not only beneficial for the National Parks and Kent State University, but team members had the opportunity to serve their community as well. Most companies don’t have a National Park in their backyard, but Improvements is lucky enough to have CVNP. It’s approximately 10 miles (or 21 minutes driving time) from our front door!

Earth Day Activities You Can Participate In

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April 22, 2018, marked the 48th celebration of Earth Day. You may celebrate in various ways no matter your age. Some Earth Day activities include:

  • Learn how to recycle or compost.
  • Start your summer garden.
  • Ride your bike instead of driving.
  • Pick up litter in a park or around your neighborhood.
  • Build a birdhouse, a bee house or even a bat house.

You can even be like the Improvements family and plant some trees. After all, Improvements Cares!

Posted in Volunteer Tagged with: , ,
Posted by: Amandah Blackwell

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