GREENFIELD — An organization with the aim of bringing more beauty in the form of flora to Greenfield and a school group with its eyes on Mars have teamed up to protect the city’s newest trees.
The Greenfield-Central High School Rover Team and Regreening Greenfield combined forces on two occasions — once in September, and once in November — to place trunk protectors around the slender trunks of the environmental-minded organization’s trees planted in 2016 and 2017 on North and South State Streets and plant persimmon and American hazel trees along the tree walk at Beckenholdt Park.
The high school Mars Rover team funded the purchase of the trees and planted them Nov. 5, according to a news release.
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The students were pleased and proud to assist with these community service projects, said Regreening Greenfield president Sally Parsons. Participation gave the team a nice break from designing, refining, building, and practice for driving the next rover vehicle.
Regreening Greenfield, a local volunteer nonprofit organization, is known for distributing free tree seedlings on Arbor Day weekend. Not as well-known is the group’s main mission to plant more than 1,000 street trees in its 29-year existence.
Regreening’s latest survey showed that, as of 2014, Greenfield has lost some 43 percent of the street trees that were counted in 2004, Parsons said. These losses are attributed to disease, lawnmower damage, volcano mulching, automobile strikes, and age. Since the 2014 survey, even more trees, both street and yard, have been lost, including the eventual loss of all area ash trees from ravages of the Emerald Ash Borer.
With the support of Mayor Chuck Fewell and the Greenfield City Council, and with essential planting assistance provided by the Greenfield Parks and Recreation Department and Charlotte Creek Nursery, 150 new trees were planted in the 2016 and 2017 planting seasons. Regreening Greenfield aims to plant between 80 and 100 new trees next year. To protect the trees and the financial investment in them, each new tree receives a $1.50 plastic trunk protector — a small price to pay for survival in the tough environment of a street tree.
The job of placing tree protectors is not finished, so the Rover team has committed to another day of service to place them.
“It was inspiring to watch these two groups work as one team, one with their feet firmly planted in the dirt on earth and the other group looking to kick up some dust on Mars,” Parsons said.
The Greenfield-Central Rover Team hosts RJ Bodkin, aerospace engineer, NASA Langley Research Center. Bodkin, a Greenfield native, will speak 2 p.m. Dec. 27 at the Hancock County Public Library, 900 W. McKenzie Road, Greenfield.
Mr. Bodkin is the Re-entry lead for the Low-earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator. He will share his experiences with the Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator and other exciting NASA projects.
The G-CHS Rover Team will share their experiences with the international NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge competition held annually in Huntsville, Alabama. NASA created the Human Exploration Rover Challenge in part to recreate the excitement and challenges of space exploration. The Rover Challenge is a competition for high school and college student teams to design, build and test human-powered vehicle to race over stimulated Mars terrain. The G-CHS Rover Team represents the only high school team in the state of Indiana to accept this international challenge.