Maumee Tree Canopy Project Gets A Boost From Students

Maumee Middle School science teacher Mike Dick passes out a tree sapling to sisters Nicole (left) and Kayla Kiss during the middle school art show. Families were able to sign up to receive saplings, and students can continue to monitor the trees and growth for educational purposes. MIRROR PHOTO BY KRISTI FISH

BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — Students across Maumee are planting trees around the town, doing their part to increase the tree canopy.

For several years, the city of Maumee has been implementing the Maumee Tree Canopy Project, aimed at increasing the tree canopy by 10 percent in 10 years.

In Mike Dick’s classroom, his science students spent the year tying in much of their curriculum to the tree initiative.

In the fall, the students created posters to collect seeds for native tree species, noting the benefits of each tree. Come springtime, the students created Metroparks-style signs to note the benefits of tree cover.

Throughout the year, they’ve learned how the tree initiative can impact them and the generations to come.

“I do like how the tree initiative has made these teaching topics a bit more relevant to the kids, and I feel like I have pretty good buy-in from my students,” Dick said.

Keeping the students engaged and excited in the classroom and out is also important to Jodi Haney, who is a part of the Maumee Environmental & Tree Advisory Commission.

“The most important lesson for students, in my eyes anyway, is that real environmental challenges do indeed exist, but instead of ignoring them, denying them or being frozen in fear, we can use human ingenuity to solve these problems,” Haney said. “Planting trees is but one of the many solutions we can adopt to minimize the consequences of a warming planet.”

As the founder of Xcite Learning, Haney has lots of experience working with schools on developing programming for students and teachers. When she partnered with the district in the fall of 2022 to assist with the tree canopy project, she knew it would be important to help the students identify the problems and find solutions that each student is willing and able to implement.

“I want them to know they can make a difference through their knowledge, skills and perhaps most importantly, actions,” Haney said.

Making sure the students are excited to implement these actions and are fully prepared to do so will also ensure the success of the project for years to come.

“Their generation is who will reap the benefits of this initiative as the trees grow and provide the benefits that take time to experience,” Maumee City Council member Margo Puffenberger said. 

“It’s also important to make sure our future generation realizes the importance of trees, and all of the benefits that come along with that far outweigh any perceived inconveniences,” she added.

Those children will also spread the information to the rest of the community, which will make sure everyone is paying attention to the benefits of trees in a community like Maumee.

“Trees are green infrastructure. They are one of the most affordable pieces of infrastructure, and unlike other types of infrastructure, the benefits of this green infrastructure increase over time,” Puffenberger added.

During the Maumee Middle School Art Show, students had the opportunity to bring home future green infrastructure and plant saplings in their own yards. They were then asked to fill out a form, letting the city know where that particular tree had been placed.

Keeping track of where the trees go and how many are planted will help the city know the variety of native tree species there are and how many trees have been planted since the project began.

Students who were unable to plant the saplings on their property or other places around town were able to adopt the newly planted Norway spruces near the train tracks on the middle school property.

Over time, the middle schoolers can monitor the trees’ progress and teachers can incorporate more hands-on learning into their lessons.

Now and in the future, many organizations will continue to work together to keep young Maumee residents engaged with the project.

“One of the holy grails of education is students collaborating with community members and city administration to make our town a better place, and this project has really helped enable that,” Dick said. “Our school board and district administration has been very, very supportive of the entire initiative.”

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