News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 25, 2014

Students plant tulip poplar for Arbor Day

Kids learn about caring for trees, seedlings, watching for powerlines

Staff Report
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Students at Lost Creek Elementary now have a new, tall tulip poplar tree at the front of their school to commemorate Arbor Day 2014.

And, each student was also given a seedling to take home to plant through a project by TREES Inc. as part of the Tell About A Tree Day program presented by Joy Sacopulos.

“Your tree came with 1,699 other trees,” Sacopulos told the students gathered in the school gym. “If you want your tree to grow and catch up with you some day, you have to put something around it to protect it.”

She explained that tulip poplars are also known as the “log cabin trees” because they grow with a straight trunk and few lower branches, making them ideal for Indiana’s early settlers, who used the trees to build structures.

“If we were pioneers, we would be looking at these trees with a different eye,” Sacopulos said.

Many of the cabins at Fowler Park, in southern Vigo County, are constructed from tulip poplars, said Adam Grossman, assistant superintendent of the county parks department.

In 1931, the tulip poplar became the state tree, and each seedling has the potential for 200 to 250 years of life and a height of 70 to 100 feet, if it is well-maintained.

He encouraged the students to put some type of buffer around their seedling once it is planted. Too many small trees get killed by lawn mowers or by being stepped on or neglected.

“Eventually, this tree will grow so big that if you run into it with a bicycle you will be the one getting hurt, not the tree,” Grossman said. “That is our goal.”

He instructed the students to look up before planting, to check for power lines that will cause a future problem. The seedlings should also be planted away from buildings, in full sunlight and with room to grow. He also gave instruction about digging a whole wide and deep enough for the roots.

“If you plant it low, it will grow slow,” Grossman had the children repeat. “Plant it high, it will die.”

The Lost Creek students also heard from Judy Hogan of TREES about an upcoming program that will feature a “magic gardener” to talk about keeping the earth and water clean.

Teacher John Bitzegaio read the students poems and a book about trees, and a group of caped and masked “superhero” kindergarten students sang an environmental song. The program also included the presentation of a proclamation to Celebrate Arbor Day by county commissioners Brad Anderson, Judith Anderson and Mike Ciolli.