Did you know that Winamac has been one of the nation’s ‘Tree City USA’ towns for more than 15 years? It managed to gain that title thanks to the voluntary efforts of the Winamac Tree Committee. The committee itself has been around for approximately 20 years now. For the first time ever, up and coming high school seniors will serve as members of the committee.
One of the founding members of the organization, Don Darda, explained the importance of incorporating the youth of Winamac into this environmental movement, “I’m just happy that we have young people that are involved. Hopefully this will give them an authentic view of civics in our own community”
Darda explained that the four students will deal with all the pros and cons of serving on a community board from grant management to diplomacy skills, they will have hands on real world experience with these things. He shared a direct quote from one of the students who will be joining the team. “We are all seniors that want to become more involved with our community and gain the experience to be better citizens.”
Every year the Winamac Tree Committee receives grants in order to plant trees in various areas across the community. Since their conception they have planted close to 2,500 trees. However those aren’t the only trees that have been provided to the community. One of the requirements of ‘Tree City USA’ is to incorporate some kind of environmental educational aspect. Prior to teaching world history and geography in the High School, Darda was a 4th grade teacher.
He said, “Some of the vocabulary that I was supposed to teach the students is manufacturing, entrepreneur, free enterprise, well how do you teach that to 10-year-olds? So through the tree committee we would purchase 500 saplings. So over the years I was able to use my classroom and fulfill this requirement”
Darda’s fourth grade students were able to receive a hands on learning experience replicating the inner-workings of American economics, complete with a production line responsible for wrapping and preparing the trees and students who would take and deliver orders to various other class rooms.
Now that Darda works in the high school, he still wanted to allow students to have some involvement with urban renewal and environmental education, hence asking for senior participation. High schoolers Lorrin Alexander, Sam Hinkle, Will Kiefer and Ryan Salazar will be joining this year’s committee with adult members Fred Zahrt, Judy Poor and Judy Heater. The Tree Committee of Greenspace Winamac plans to meet on the first Monday of every month in the Winamac Municipal Utilities complex. Their next meeting is scheduled for August 3rd at 6 pm. (EDT)