‘Paying it forward’ through trees

Fifth- through eighth-graders in a Community Leadership Camp are learning how to “pay it forward” this summer by planting trees in city parks.

Last week, the children in the program were bused to Jack Hoeven Park to plant 100 ponderosa pine seedlings. In the coming weeks, they will plant 200 more seedlings. They will be a living legacy that can be seen and enjoyed for many years to come.

Teacher Jane Malsom said the seedlings, which cost $1 apiece, were purchased from a nursery in Towner. They were paid through with a grant from the Character Leadership Foundation.

The leadership camp, which is free, is also teaching the kids lessons about how to work in teams and how to be leaders who exercise good character. All of the lessons emphasize one of the six pillars of character from the district’s character education curriculum, Character Counts!

The six pillars of character are trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.

During one team building exercise, the kids formed teams and had to build a tower made out of gumdrops.

In another, different teams were tasked with creating a crate out of styrofoam, newspaper and other items that could protect an egg when it was dropped from a high place.

Kids gave their eggs comical names like “Egbert.”

Some of the eggs survived the drop with nary a crack, but the kids thought seeing them go splat was fun, too.

The students said they think what they’re learning will help them be better leaders someday.

The camp is being held through the end of June at Jim Hill Middle School.