June 14, 2023

In the Company of Trees

Danielle Peterson

Fifth-grade students gather around a freshly planted Asian chestnut sapling that will grow into a beautiful tree on campus.

For anyone that has visited Glenelg Country School, the beauty of the school’s campus is immediately evident. From its open space to the secluded pond, the landscape is truly iconic. And throughout the campus, various trees dot the roadways and hillsides, providing shade and educational opportunities to students in all grades.

This fall, students in Deborah Lieberman’s science classes, learned about the historical relevance of one tree and contributed to the beautification of the campus.

Third grade students learned about Maryland’s historic Wye Oak. The tree was the largest white oak tree in the United States and the State Tree of Maryland from 1941 until its demise in 2002. But all is not lost. Students were thrilled to discover that a descendant of the famous Wye Oak grows in front of the Manor House. The revelation led to many nature walks through the woods on campus for the third graders, who weren’t the only class to learn about the importance of trees.

With help support from David Weeks, global education and community service director, Lieberman’s fifth grade class planted a chestnut tree on campus this school year. A gift from the Howard County Master Gardeners, the sapling represents efforts to reestablish the magnificent tree in forests.

The mission of the Howard County Master Gardeners is to educate residents about safe, effective, and sustainable horticultural practices that build healthy gardens, landscapes, and communities. The Master Gardener program is administered by the University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Service.

The American Chestnut tree was one of the keystone tree species in the eastern United States until the mid-1900s when most chestnuts succumbed to an invasive blight. The sapling planted by students is an Asian chestnut resistant to the blight.

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