In Ontario, Arbour Week is celebrated from the last Friday in April to the first Friday in May, and each year the Forestry team at Hydro One takes on the challenge of sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm for trees, visiting schools and communities across Ontario from Timmins to the southernmost point of our province.
Chris, a Forestry Front Line Manager, has coordinated the program at Hydro One since 2009. The interactive educational program is powered by more than 175 forestry staff including Forestry Technicians, Foresters, and Apprentices all dedicated to teaching the many benefits of trees and educating school children on what they do and why they are important. The team prepares for weeks for the school visits, organizing groups, purchasing larger trees (up to 15' tall) selected based on their species' suitability for planting in the school yards, and arranging for the delivery of seedlings for each student to plant. Chris notes, "I personally love planting new trees right in the school yard. Many school yards are not really 'greened up', the way they should be."
The in-class Arbour Day program teaches the importance of trees, and about how as Foresters, the Hydro One team's job is to manage the proximity of trees to power lines. Arbour Week demonstrations vary from planting trees to watching Hydro One equipment, bucket truck, and tree climbing demonstrations.
"We give our staff the background of the program, but give them the latitude to be creative. In Huntsville, we take the entire Forestry staff for that area—it's huge. And, it introduces our Apprentices to the program. It showcases what Hydro One and Forestry does and is a great way to disseminate important information."
Younger forestry staff are drawn to the program, which simplifies volunteer recruitment and allows Chris to focus on making the program delivery as streamlined as possible, coordinating and circulating all the materials the volunteers need to deliver a great presentation and forge enduring connections with the students. This year he is delighted to have the support of Rick, a Forestry Technician, to make sure the program was delivered well and on time.
The first Arbour Day was held in Nebraska in April 1872 and was a tremendous success, with an estimate of over one million trees planted. J. Sterling Morton, President Grover Cleveland's Secretary of Agriculture, was behind the inaugural event bringing his passion for trees south from Detroit and educating on the need for trees for not only shade, building material, and fuel but also for their important protection against soil erosion.
Asked what drew Chris to the Arbour Day program in the first place, he responds:
"Earlier in my career, I used to see the concrete and dirt in school playgrounds. I'm in Forestry. I love planting trees and making things green. This is a truly great program, and I'm glad Hydro One supports it."
With forestry and vegetation management playing a significant role in the Hydro One mission, we remain passionate about trees and their vital contribution to our environment.