Evanston Ecology Center celebrates Earth Day, Arbor Day


Source: Claire Alden

City arborist Mark Younger plants a Burr Oak tree as children Mahalia Bonner (left) and Ryan Rody (right) look on. The City of Evanston hosted an Earth Day/Arbor Day celebration on Friday.

Amanda Gilbert, Reporter

The Evanston Ecology Center hosted a combined Earth Day and Arbor Day celebration Saturday as part of the community’s commitment to environmental protection.

The celebration started with a tree-planting demonstration. Residents later visited booths and played games organized by various Evanston ecology-related clubs, such as the Evanston Tree Keepers, the Highland Garden Club and the city’s Office of Sustainability, said Claire Alden, the center’s program manager.

Alden said one of her favorite events was the tree-planting demonstration at the start of the day because so many of the children participating ended up wanting to do most of the work.

“A little boy at the end said, ‘I helped my community today,’” Alden said. “It was the cutest thing that he got that. It was fun to see them engage in something you wouldn’t normally think of a 7- or 8-year-old being engaged in.”

She said it was especially important to help children recognize how beneficial planting native trees are because it combats the many invasive plant species currently growing in the city. People don’t realize how damaging these species can be to the trees that originated here, Alden said.

“It you can get people to appreciate the Earth and care about it, they are more likely to want to protect it,” she said.

Sheryl Hosler, the center’s program instructor, said invasive species removal was another big activity during the day. Some of the other events included seed dissections, mulching and an arboretum scavenger hunt, where children searched for data on tree tags about how the trees benefit Evanston, she said.

“Even though Evanston is a metropolitan area, there is still a lot of green space here,” Hosler said. “And we want people to know it is a good part of the community.”

Earth Day and Arbor Day are under-appreciated holidays that can help shed light on environmental issues, Alden said.

Hosler said these days are important because they show that the ecology center shouldn’t be the only community institution concerned about the environment.

“People get to see that nature isn’t just dirt,” Hosler said.