Planting trees can be a lot of fun when you do it with friends, said Isabel Chesney-Jordan, 8, and her sister, Tessa, 6.
The girls and their parents, Mark Jordan and Caroline Chesney of Fort Wayne, will join other volunteers again this year to plant trees during the Great Tree Canopy Comeback event Nov. 2 at area parks.
“It's a great family experience,” said Robin Holley, authorized representative for the Friends of the Parks of Allen County group, which started the event 12 years ago to restore the tree canopy that existed in the mid-1900s in area parks.
A lot of Boy Scout and Girl Scout groups also volunteer to help, as do some high school clubs, said Holley and Steve McDaniel, deputy director of the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department.
This will be the Chesney-Jordans' third year as volunteers.
“We are inclined to be involved in these kinds of activities,” Caroline said.
Mark is an associate professor of biology at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, and his research frequently takes him outdoors.
Both of their daughters attend Montessori school programs — Isabel at Towles Montessori Elementary & New Tech Middle School, and Tessa at Bunche Montessori Early Childhood Center. Participating in the Great Tree Canopy Comeback fits in with the community service and environmental elements of a Montessori education, Caroline said.
“I'm encouraging the girls to grow up with community service as part of their everyday life, and this is a fun way to do it,” she added.
This year, it will be even more fun because she has organized a group of Bunche and Towles students and their families — about 30 people in all — to volunteer together to plant trees at Northside Park.
Over the years, the Great Tree Canopy Comeback has planted about 250 trees per year in Fort Wayne, Allen County and New Haven-Adams Township parks, Holley said. Friends of the Parks buys the trees, and asks for volunteers to help plant them.
In Fort Wayne, they will plant 60 trees in Shoaff Park, 70 in Buckner Park and 30 in Northside Park, McDaniel said. This year, the Fort Wayne portion of the project also will include 44 street trees in the Shoaff Park River Estates housing subdivision just south of Shoaff Park.
Elsewhere in the county, volunteers will plant about 20 trees in Metea Park near Leo-Cedarville, and about 15 trees in Moser Park in New Haven, Holley said.
The money to buy the trees comes from memberships, donations and grants, Holley said. American Electric Power, Northern Indiana Public Service Co. (NIPSCO) and Steel Dynamics also are helping to sponsor this year's Great Tree Canopy Comeback event.
The trees being planted include tulip, Kentucky coffee, linden, redbud, hackberry, serviceberry and several species of oak, McDaniel said.
“These trees are natural Indiana trees,” he said. “They do well in our climate and our region of the United States.”
About 125 volunteers have signed up so far to help plant, but they could use a total of 300 or more, Holley said. Currently, more volunteers are needed at Northside and Shoaff parks and at Shoaff Park River Estates.
Holes for the trees already have been dug, McDaniel said. Volunteers just have to make sure the hole is deep enough for the tree's root ball, lift the tree into the hole, peel back the burlap wrapping around the root ball and fill in around it with dirt. Some trees also will get a topping of mulch.
Trees in Shoaff Park River Estates already will be standing in their holes because street trees are larger — and their root balls heavier — than the other trees being planted, McDaniel said.
Park trees will stand 8 1/2 to 10 feet tall, while the street trees stand about 10 to 15 feet tall, he said.
McDaniel and Holley said all the trees probably will be planted within about two hours.
“In past years, we've had great volunteers who are hard-working,” he said. “As they get done with one tree, they go on to the next.”