Humidity and spirits were high as the youth got to work planting trees in Summerside’s Heather Moyse Heritage Park Friday morning.
“That’s the very first tree I ever planted,” said Connor Belaire.
He stamped the spade into a fresh patch of earth, pried open a space and dropped in a baby white spruce tree.
“I didn’t think the process was that easy.”
Belaire is on the team from Skills Enhancement and Mentorship (SEAM), a program that lets Island youth returning to high school gain valuable work experience.
Fellow SEAM teammates Durrell Yeo and Emma Coughlin were busy nearby.
“We volunteer different places, like on farms,” said Yeo.
“Today we’re volunteering for the City of Summerside.”
“It really helps with our job experiences. It’ll help us for the future to learn all the skills,” said Coughlin.
The tree planting will fulfil a lot of goals not only for SEAM, but for the city and the Summerside Lion’s Club as well.
“Part of the Lion’s centennial is to plant 100,000 trees,” said club president Cleve Rix.
The Lion’s District N1, including P.E.I., New Brunswick and Maine, have already planted 11,000 trees.
“It’s a good start for the country,” said Rix.
The project is shared by the City of Summerside.
“We’ve had a fairly significant loss of trees from (post-tropical storm) Dorian,” said Trent Williams, Summerside’s parks and green spaces manager.
He gestured to a row of tall leafy trees at the edge of the entrance, and explained they will help replace some of the trees that blew down in September’s storm. The little spikes of spruce will help increase the tree population in the park.
“The more trees the better.”
The back of the city’s white pickup truck was filled with trays of spiky white spruce trees donated from J.D. Irving Ltd. Some of the trees will also be planted in Rotary Park.
“We graciously had gotten around 2,000 trees,” said Williams.
"Since the community lost so many trees on their properties, we thought next Saturday we’d have a tree giveaway.”
Around 1,000 baby spruce trees will be available for free in the Credit Union Place parking lot on Aug. 1 from 9 a.m. to noon.
Alison Jenkins is a local journalism initiative reporter, a position funded by the federal government.