BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — For those walking, biking and running along the Wabash Cannonball Trail in Whitehouse, the trees that line the path provide a place to stop for some shade.
Thanks to an Eagle Scout project by Boy Scout Troop 104 member Noah Werning, those trees also provide an education.
On July 11, the Monclova teen and fellow members of his troop, which is based out of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Maumee, placed identifying signs with QR codes at the base of 41 trees. Most are along the bike path, but a few are near Veterans Memorial Park.
With a phone camera, users can scan the QR code and learn about the 26 varieties of trees, from American elm to Worplesdon sweetgum. Working with April Cline of the Whitehouse village staff, Noah created the QR codes that link to informational pages he created on the village website.
The pages include the names of each tree, the meaning behind the name, average height and width at maturity, details on the leaves, fruit and bark, and anecdotal information, such as “the wood from the European hornbeam is often used to make pianos” and “Daniel Boone made a 60-foot-long canoe from a tulip tree that he rowed down the Ohio River with his family.”
Noah worked with the Tree Commission but found most of the information on the trees from research online.
“I think I know a lot of these trees, but Noah found out a lot I didn’t know,” said Sheri Luedtke, Tree Commission chair. “It’s a wonderful project.”
Noah contacted the Tree Commission over a year ago for Eagle Scout project ideas. When members mentioned their desire for a “tree tour” with IDs, Noah got to work. In the process, he learned how to do citations and ask for permission to use photos. He also found out a lot about trees.
“I enjoy nature and I have frequently gone on vacation to national parks with my family,” Noah said. “I didn’t know much about trees prior to this project.”
Using 25 percent of the proceeds from Boy Scout popcorn he sold, plus funds from the village, Noah had the weatherproof tags laser-etched, then attached them to stakes pushed into the ground by fellow Scouts.
Having the identifiers at each tree will not only provide an education to the casual user of the Wabash Cannonball Trail, but also give a more realistic idea for homeowners looking for just the right tree, said Tree Commission member Chris Manzey. Seeing the tree at maturity – including its height, width and bark type – provides a clearer picture for those seeking the right tree for their yards.
Woodlawn Cemetery has trees labeled with URLs and a tree guide, Manzey said. That provided a nice model for Noah’s project. The Tree Commission’s next goal is to expand the project to include the cemeteries.
Every year, the Tree Commission plants three trees somewhere in Whitehouse. Many of them have found a home along the Wabash Cannonball Trail, which once was a railroad that cut through town.
“The soil here is as bad as it gets,” said Manzey, noting that rock, filler and coal from the former railway are mixed in with the soil. Occasionally, some of the trees that are planted do die, but not any more often than trees planted in other areas. Proper planting and care are vital to a tree’s life, the commission members agree. Resources on that care are available on the Whitehouse website.
Noah, who is entering his sophomore year at Anthony Wayne High School, will get the benefit of knowing that he’s encouraged others to learn about and care for trees for decades to come.
For information on the trees, go to www.whitehouseoh.gov and look under the “Having Fun” tab for the Tree Tour. Or hit the trail and stop by any one of the trees with a phone.