Yesterday, students across Ireland got down and dirty to plant trees and learn about nature.
As part of the campaign, The National Tree Council sent out more than 1,000 free alder trees to participating schools.
Since the alder has nitrogen-fixing properties, and improves the fertility of the soil where it grows, the species will help participating schools secure a coveted Biodiversity Green Flag.
While the initiative is nationwide, pupils in Cork seemed particularly enthusiastic — almost every single primary school in the county applied for their free tree.
Scoil Naomh Eoin in Leamlara, Co Cork, received their tree during the week.
Pauline Kerins, deputy principal and co-ordinator of the Green Schools programme, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to take part, it’s a great initiative. It makes the kids more aware of nature and the environment.”
Tree Day is designed to teach children about trees and the importance of planting them. It is the only day in the primary school curriculum children are encouraged to go outside to learn about nature.
Damien O’Connell, a teacher at Castleknock National School, Co Dublin, took his class to the Phoenix Park yesterday to take part in some of the Tree Day events.
He praised the initiative, calling it a “hands-on” approach to learning.
He said: “Plus it’s a nice day out for them — it’s fun and learning mixed into one.”
Through this year’s campaign, children will learn about seven native trees and the benefits and personalities of each.
To coincide with the campaign each tree will feature on the back of Tetra Pak cartons of Avonmore School Milk.
Kevin Hutchinson, president of the Tree Council of Ireland, said: “This year, we are very excited about offering schools the opportunity to get even more involved by planting their own alder Tree allowing them to partake in such a tangible and meaningful way.”
The official Tree Day website, guided by its mascot Sammy Squirrel, features interactive, curriculum-based lessons for the classroom in both Irish and English.
It includes projects, poster downloads and word games, etc.