Trees of Strength branches out to Mecklenburg County
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A symbolic spring planting...In Mecklenburg County, North Carolina Cooperative Extension's Trees of Strength and Duke Power's Tress in Education programs joined forces as trees were planted at five area schools.  (Photo by Herman Lankford)


Trees of Strength branches out
to Mecklenburg County

Duke Power's Henry Wallace and horticulture agent Emily Revels combined tree-planting forces in Mecklenburg County.  (Photo by Herman Lankford)

It was a red, white and blue event, complete with politicians, dignitaries, a high school band and children waving U.S. flags.

On a brisk March day, Emily Revels, a horticulture graduate of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, was among Mecklenburg County Cooperative Extension and corporate partners who kicked off the Trees in Education/Trees of Strength (TIE/TOS) program.

The event was part of Extension’s statewide Trees of Strength program, which encourages the public to plant trees in memory of the victims of Sept. 11 and in honor of those who protect and defend the country.

Trees in Education is a Duke Power Co. program designed to educate the public about appropriate trees to plant near power lines. The program was developed by Duke Power’s Henry Wallace, a member of Mecklenburg County’s Extension Advisory Council.

Duke Power supports Cooperative Extension’s Successful Gardener program, which provides a newsletter and educational programs. Wallace learned of Trees of Strength through the Successful Gardener newsletter and proposed combining the two programs into a local effort.

Revels, a Mecklenburg County horticulture agent, joined with Wallace to promote the program in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

The TIE plan was to plant trees at new schools, or schools that had been recently renovated, to demonstrate how to plant trees where they will not threaten power lines. By joining the Trees of Strength program, the TIE trees also serve as living symbols to remember those who perished in the Sept. 11 attacks and to honor service men and women, as well as firefighters and police officers, who serve their country and communities.

Initially, only two schools were to hold tree plantings. “But it just kept growing and growing,” Revels said.

On March 18, the first trees in the Mecklenburg County TIE/TOS program were planted at five schools. At E. E. Waddell High School, where a news conference was held, six trees were planted on the front lawn of the new school building. Five trees were planted at each of the other four schools. Master Gardeners helped with the plantings at all five schools.

Children from nearby Nations Ford Elementary School attended the Waddell ceremony, waving U.S. flags, as the Waddell High band played patriotic songs. Weyerhaeuser Co. provided 400 willow oak seedlings for students at schools where plantings were held.

Revels plans to continue the tree plantings at other schools in the fall to commemorate the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Duke Power has pledged to support the program in any North or South Carolina county in its service area.

Already, two other North Carolina counties have conducted plantings under the program, Revels said. And the Trees of Strength program, started by North Carolina Master Gardeners, has been adopted now in five states.

—Natalie Hampton


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