February 4, 2005  


Good Natured Community Relations

By Joni White

Working in community relations, you never know what projects may come your way. So when Helen Quinn (TP), president of the American Physical Society and head of SLAC’s education outreach program, asked me to plant trees with a class of fourth graders, I said, “Sure, it’s not rocket science.”

Dig this: Kirk Stoddard (ESH) supervises students shoveling. (Photo by Joni White)

Our goal was to plant the trees before January 1 to allow for enough rainfall during the rainy season for the trees to survive. We also had to consider protecting the young plants from the deer. Though I had never actually planted a tree before, it sounded like a nice chance to connect with kids from a local school and add some new oaks to SLAC’s already magnificent collection.

The class gathered acorns from their neighborhoods and sprouted them into saplings. A dozen small trees growing in milk cartons were carried by hand to the Lab. Walking over from their nearby school, many children brought trowels and gloves. Our volunteer team at SLAC was waiting in the meadow adjacent to the Main Gate, ready to assist with the planting.

The team included good-natured helpers Kirk Stoddard (ESH), Carlos Pereira (SEM), Jeff Corbett (ASD) from the SLAC Garden Club and Vicente Gomez from Honda Landscaping. In addition, Nina Stolar (COM) and I were there. The teacher, Mrs. Thelen, and a few parents accompanied the class. As a bonus, one parent is actually a SLAC physicist, with the B
ABAR experiment.

After assembling for a group photo, the class paired off and walked out into the meadow. We showed them where to plant the saplings, and they began digging, with shovels provided by Gomez. The kids were excited to learn they could jump on the shovel and really move some ground! Seeing that, and the satisfaction of their having planted a new meadow full of oak trees, we enjoyed the fresh air and time away from our desks then agreed that this sort of outreach is especially worthwhile.




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Last update Wednesday February 02, 2005 by Emily Ball