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
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 BABAR
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.