Mt. Pleasant middle schoolers help environment through tree planting effort

Two classrooms of eighth-graders at Mount Pleasant Middle School had the opportunity to help increase the local tree canopy by working with Trees NOW Isabella to plant trees at the school this Arbor Day.

With support from United Way of Gratiot & Isabella Counties (UWGIC), the nonprofit’s fiscal sponsor, Trees NOW has been promoting the planting of trees since 2019 when co-founders James Hageman and David Alm saw the interest in planting from the community.

Two eighth-grade classes at Mount Pleasant Middle School helped plant 20 trees with nonprofit Trees NOW Isabella on Friday, April 29. Member of the Trees NOW steering committee, Tami Melton, says that trees are something that are always there in front of everyone’s faces, but their benefit and impact may not be known.

Capturing carbon, improving air quality, and encouraging biodiversity are a few of the ways trees can benefit the environment and the general public. Melton says the Mount Pleasant Middle School planting was a success and all the students were excited to be there.

“The teachers were really excited about helping the kids understand, well, number one, why trees are important, and number two, how to plant them and take care of them,” she says. “So they're out there with us digging holes, and they did a great job. It was fantastic.”

By the end of the event, 20 trees had been successfully planted. To further encourage students to take their own initiative with planting, Trees NOW also drew a name from a hat and awarded a lucky middle schooler with a $100 gift card to Alwood Landscaping and Nursery to pick a tree of their choice to plant at home.

A second planting at Winn Elementary the following Saturday involved families and K-4 children, and a lucky parent (and teacher) at Winn won a similar gift card from Green Scene Landscaping. In total, 35 trees were given to the two schools.

“I hope that just helping them to notice nature, appreciate it and hopefully, if they develop that appreciation, they have a desire to care for them and plant more trees,” Melton says. “That's the goal here, to get as many trees planted as we can.”

Funding for the planting at Mount Pleasant Middle School and the upcoming work on Saturday, April 30 at Winn Elementary School was provided through a grant to Trees NOW Isabella by the Urban and Community Forestry Grants Program of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

For more information or to learn about upcoming projects, visit

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Read more articles by Riley Connell.

Riley Connell is a senior at Central Michigan University majoring in journalism and minoring in broadcast and cinematic arts. She has written for CMU's student-run publication Grand Central Magazine for two years and is now the editor-in-chief. After obtaining her degree, Riley would like to become a full-time feature writer. In her free time, Riley enjoys listening to music, trying new food, and collecting vintage clothing. She grew up in Metro Detroit and currently resides in Mt. Pleasant.