Throughout the day Thursday, Tucumcari Elementary School students filed out of their school and into the “Outdoor Classroom” just north of the elementary school to plant trees to help landscape the classroom.
The children were divided up into small groups under the immediate supervision of a high school National Honor Society member and plant a tree into a hole that was dug around the pond at the outdoor classroom. On hand to assist the young students were members from a variety of organizations and governmental entities who felt that the idea of planting trees in the park-like “classroom” was a good one.
“I think this is wonderful,” said Yvette Fazekas the project coordinator for the planting of the trees by the elementary school students. “I think it’s great not only for the kids, but for the city as well. That’s what we need for this town to grow is some unity.”
Soil conservationist Lem Chesher agreed with everything Fazekas said about the concept behind the planting, but said he had something of an ulterior motive for being out at the outdoor classroom.
“It’s fun to watch them come out here, and do all this,” said Chesher watching the small children scramble over the terrain carrying a sapling or seeding as if they were prized trophies and place them into the ground in an almost worshipful fashion.
According to Fazekas, the groups taking part in helping with the tree planting included the school system, Altrusa, the Conchas Lake State Park, the Canadian River Soil and Water Conservation District, the NRCS, the City of Tucumcari, and the Tucumcari Fire Department. Before any of the children began the planting, while they sat in the one of the ampitheater-like kivas, they were instructed in the proper manner for the activity by Conchas State Park Ranger Steve Bustos. In addition to explaining how to plant the trees, the ranger told the elementary school students how important they were to the growing of the plants they were putting into the ground. Bustos said there were a variety of trees that the children planted during the day such as New Mexico Locust and New Mexico Olive and Coyote Willow.
“Basically, we have a mixture of trees native to the Southwest and specifically New Mexico where possible,” said Bustos.
Tucumcari Fire Chief Mike Cherry said the outdoor classroom was a wonderful idea for education and it was fortunate that the children of Tucumcari had it. Fazekas said one of the joys of the classroom is that it is always a work “in progress.” She said that she is currently working on another grant to make even more improvements on it.