Steamboat Springs Sixth-graders at Steamboat Springs Middle School got a chance to put their lessons in tree ecology to work by planting trees at the middle school and Strawberry Park Elementary School this week.
The Sixth-Grade River and Trails Tree Planting Project is in its ninth year at the middle school.
Students energetically worked at the school Friday, shoveling wood mulch and toting it in plastic bags and buckets on the property.
They poured the mulch carefully around each of the trees, which they had planted earlier in the week.
"They have boundless energy," said Matt Tredway, a sixth-grade math and science teacher at the middle school. He has coordinated the tree project for the past nine years.
Each year, students sponsor a fund-raiser in which they sell trees in the community. Tredway said the yearly sale has spawned loyal customers in Steamboat.
The nearly $1,800 that the fund-raiser produced this year was matched by a grant approved by the Colorado Tree Coalition. The nonprofit organization attempts to preserve, renew and enhance community forests in the state. Plant-It 2020, a sponsor of the Colorado Tree Coalition Grants Program, provided the grant.
Between the grant and money raised by the students, the total was nearly $3,600. With the money, the students were able to buy more than 200 cottonwood trees.
Students planted the trees along the trail behind the football field, along the roads entering and leaving the middle and elementary schools, and around both buildings.
Tredway said the students enjoy the project.
"Want to do one more bag (of mulch)? Or do you just want to call it a day and go back to class," Tredway asked a group of sweating students.
"One more bag! One more bag!," came the responses.
"They looked a lot different at 8 in the morning," Tredway said. By 10 a.m., many students had drenched themselves with water to cool off.
The program is a great way for students to apply their knowledge of ecology, Tredway said.
"They've always done a good job there," said community forester Keith Wood from the Colorado State Forest Service.
The CTC's 2002 annual report said students who participate in the project "will be enhancing the beauty of our town as well as learning about responsibility and citizenship in their community."
"We try to foster all aspects of trees and planting trees," CTC grants chairman David Flaig said.
The Steamboat Springs Park and Recreation Department received a $1,500 grant from the CTC this year. The city will use the money to plant 12 news trees downtown.
The CTC received requests for more than $69,000 in grants this year. It was only able to distribute only $41,000.