Girl Scouts ❤ trees
Troop 20639 helps replace destroyed tulip trees in Southampton Park
By Donna Beth Weilenman
Last month, vandals chopped through most of the 20 young tulip trees that had been planted at Southampton Park with the help of Interact Club members of Benicia High School last October.
Tuesday afternoon, members of Girl Scout Troop 20639 helped plant the first of a batch of new trees that will replace the ones that were killed.
“I’m already inspired by them,” said Wolfram Alderson, executive director of the Benicia Tree Foundation, which helped organize the event.
Call them amateur arborists: Just a few days earlier, the same troop helped plant 80 trees at Benicia High School in a project inspired by an earlier Boy Scout endeavor.
As Girl Scouts of America approaches its centennial, it has adopted the theme “Forever Green,” and many troops and Scouts across the country are undertaking environmental projects.
“I wanted my daughter involved because it’s important for her to understand the contributions groups can make to the community,” said Kathy Smith, whose daughter, Madison, 6, was one of about a dozen youngsters who took up a shovel Tuesday to help plant the first of 18 new tulip trees.
“And I wanted her to do something sustainable — something that grows. She can see it here every day.”
After the trees in Southampton Park were killed, Girl Scout Troop Leaders Andrea Ward and Sharon Lynch told Alderson how the news affected the young Scouts.
“The young ladies in the troop were concerned about the vandalism,” Alderson said. “They heard the news when it happened, and they weren’t sure what to do. They talked to their moms about it.”
Not only did the young Scouts pitch in to help plant the replacement tree, they presented Theron Jones, parks supervisor, with a $30 donation.
“This is something positive the kids are doing for the community, and it’s important they’re learning to be active in nature,” said parent Sonya Pagsolingan, as she watched her daughter Katelyn, 6, shovel dirt over the tulip tree’s roots.
“It’s definitely better than them sitting at home and playing Nintendo!”
The vandalism to the original trees was discovered early March 14. A $750 reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who killed the trees.
Among the destroyed trees was one selected to qualify Benicia for Tree City USA certification.
“One thing I’ve heard, some people would like to see the individual or individuals caught and punished,” Alderson said. But the Scouts had a different goal. “The Girl Scouts want to set a positive example.”
Like many Benicians who have since talked to Alderson about the vandalism, the girls didn’t focus on the perpetrator, who apparently used commercial-grade loppers to slice the young trees near the base of their trunks.
Instead, they decided the best approach “is to set a good example and take positive action,” Alderson said. And that meant putting in new trees.
That also meant wrangling trees twice the size of the little girls. But for the Scouts, “it’s not like work for them at all. It’s fun,” Alderson said.
He said at the Benicia High School project Saturday, the girls often jumped into deep planting holes to tamp the ground with their feet.
“They were working so hard,” he said. “They hear a lot about global warming, and trees is one way to get your hands around it. It’s something tangible and local that they can do.”
Alderson said he hopes other residents are inspired by the Scouts’ work Tuesday afternoon.
“They’re cleaning up our mess, and they’re not complaining. They’re less concerned about punishing someone and more concerned about fixing the problem.”
He said he hopes this time the tulip trees will be allowed to grow and bloom.
“You can’t stand guard by the trees. But if you aren’t touched by little girls planting these trees, you have no humanity left.”