Students join GreenTown in tree-planting campaign

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Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Covington School students help plant a tree in the parking lot.

For Covington School sixth-grader Cooper Ebbitt, helping to plant a tree on campus last week was a fun way to aid the environment and improve his school.

“It’s good to make sure that we have trees around campus because people can look at them, they’re really beautiful (and) it helps the environment,” Cooper said.

Fifth-grader Madison Newman, who also helped plant the tree, added it could have a ripple effect, inspiring students and their families to do the same at home.

Madison and Cooper were part of a group of kids involved in student government at Covington who took part in the tree planting Feb. 7, organized by GreenTown Los Altos.

GreenTown board president Gary Hedden is on a mission to plant 500 trees in Los Altos and Los Altos Hills, a goal he admits is lofty and may not be reached. However, one way of contributing to that goal has been planting a tree at various local schools.

At Covington last Friday, Hedden worked with a group of students, as well as district maintenance staff, to plant a Western Redbud in the school’s parking lot.

Before they began, Hedden asked the students to name some of the reasons to plant a tree. The kids’ hands shot up as they listed off a variety of reasons, from creating habitat for animals to providing shade, beautifying the campus and capturing carbon dioxide.

District staff had pre-dug a hole. As the kids gathered around, the workers took the tree out of the pot, loosened the roots and placed it in the hole. The students then lined up and took turns dropping shovelfuls of soil into the hole.

GreenTown received a $4,000 grant from Los Altos Community Foundation for the 500-tree campaign and is covering the cost of the tree plantings at the schools. Local homeowners who want a tree planted on their property have to pay for the tree themselves, though GreenTown provides them at below-wholesale prices and plants them for free.

According to Hedden, in addition to the direct benefits of planting trees, the project is a way to raise awareness about GreenTown in the community.

“That’s been working very well,” he said. “This program has clicked with a lot of people.”

Although planting trees is just one part of responding to climate change, Hedden said it is a small, positive step to take that has the potential to yield big impacts down the road. Fifth-grader Kai Etkin had similar sentiments.

“It helps GreenTown come closer to their goal,” Kai said of last week’s event at Covington. “And even though it’s just one tree, in the long run it’s going to help a lot with the environment.”

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