Local pre-school kids helped plant trees at the Schenectady Central Park Sustainability Living Center and Greenhouse on Tuesday to combat the aftermath of a severe storm last year, called a derecho.
The plantation project in the park aims to replenish the tree stock after winds and thunderstorms damaged several trees on October 7, 2020. In the park on Tuesday, Cornell Cooperative Extension’s “Little Diggers” program saw nearly 20 children aged 3 to 5 participating in a replication program.
National Grid pledged $240,000 to fund new trees as part of its Capital Region Tree Program and in partnership with Schenectady, Albany and Rensselaer counties. The funding facilitates the restoration of parks and vegetation damaged as a result of the storm, which caused tornado-like winds, strong thunderstorms and flash floods in the capital region.
The National Grid allocated an estimated budget of $150 per tree, and Schenectady County Soil and Water helped to order trees, dig suitable sites, and donate mulch to the community project.
“Last year’s hurricane devastated Schenectady County,” said Sarah Pecher, executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension. “We are excited to return that loss while providing an educational yet fun experience for children.”
The storm caused massive power outages across the capital region, with more than 200,000 National Grid customers affected by the blackout. Wind speeds over 100 mph were measured in eastern New York and western New England, prompting more than 120 reports of damage to the wind.
“There was a targeted approach in planting the trees because we wanted to find a place where they would have the most impact,” said Sarah May Pratt, Schenectady County legislator and chair of the Environmental Protection Committee. “Kids learn through play, so this will serve as an exceptional educational opportunity.”
Local mom Angela Tetem brought her son Zane to participate in a gardening activity organized in conjunction with the Cornell children’s program.
“The Little Diggers program is amazing,” Tatum said. “The trainers are great and really feel like family. I am not an outsider so it provides an opportunity for my son to appreciate plants and nature.”
Pecher said the Cornell Cooperative Extension will continue to expand its programs at the sustainability center and the group is building a children’s garden for children to learn about the environment.
“Every time Zane comes to Little Digger’s show he brings home a plant,” Tatum said. “He waters the plant and marks its growth. This program has developed him into a caring person. It’s an extremely valuable experience that can’t be taught, so we’re out of here No matter what the weather.”
Last week, National Grid oversaw the planting of 40 new trees in Nishkayuna. The residents of Dean Street chose the type of trees to be planted along their block.
“The storm hit us all and caused a lot of damage to our neighborhood,” said National Grid regional executive Laurie Poltinski. “The trees were chosen because we wanted something long-lasting to replace that loss.”
This is only the beginning of National Grid’s tree plantation programme. The organization has committed to planting 10,000 trees in both urban and rural areas of Upstate New York.
“This effort shows that we are committed to beautifying and investing in our neighborhood,” Pratt said. “We want to give a sense of pride to all of our communities.”
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