Shawn Dias, Parks and Urban Forestry Manager at the City of Morden, was happy to lead a special tree-planting event Thursday with a group of eager Maple Leaf Elementary School kids in celebration of Arbor Day. It took place on the school grounds, where a small group of kids eagerly awaited their chance to get their hands dirty and contribute to the planting of the new tree.

As the kids gathered around Dias, he welcomed them with a smile. As he dug around a dead tree on the property, the kids helped pull it from the ground cheering. In the newly dug hole, the four-year-old tree sapling was placed. The student's faces shone with determination and excitement, knowing they were making a difference.

In addition to the tree planting, three groups of children from the school were recognized for colourful drawings that earned their groups each a top ten spot on the Arbor Day t-shirt drawing contest. 

"We were so happy with all the entries we got... last year we had 30-some entries, this year we had 260," said Lili Krushel who was involved with the contest.

The three groups that made it to the top include Mia Krushel, Tessa Brett, Gabriella Jerma, Casey Keen, and Keerat Pal, who beamed with excitement as their classmates examined their artwork knowing that it would inspire others to appreciate and protect trees.

"Trees are important because they give people air... if you didn't have trees, then our air would be really dirty," said Tessa Brett. Brett was one of the student finalists paired with Gabriella Jerma and Casey Keen.

Dias encouraged the kids to nurture the tree they had planted by helping water it and spread mulch around it to keep it cool and protect the roots. The tree planting ended with a sense of accomplishment and a shared dedication to the environment. 

"I think it's really important to have kids involved and educate our youth on the importance of trees and urban forests... a lot of them have some really great answers and really great insights. The teachers are doing a great job educating the kids about Arbor Day," said Dias.

The newly planted tree on Maple Leaf Elementary School grounds from Thursday's tree-planting adventure is a reminder of the student's contribution to a greener, more sustainable world.