Earth Day Report from Middlesex, NJ


SCA alumna Valerie Lysenko sent me this story about an Earth Day event she hosted this weekend.

Hello Fellow SCA’ers!

This is Valerie from Middlesex County in NJ reporting on an Earth Day Tree Planting event our Conservation Corps just had.

As the head planner and organizer, I spent many weeks scouting the planting site, getting all the materials together, and recruiting and mobilizing volunteers. I decided to pick an old abandoned field off a hidden road where I believe once stood an abandoned house. Since the site is part of a huge preserve, it is often disregarded as nothing more than a dumping ground. In fact, this small parcel of land hosts a very unique ecosystem – the Pine Barrens. Characterized by pines, oaks, and dry/sandy soil, the Pine Barrens make New Jersey one of the only states in the US with this type of habitat. Needless to say, its protection is crucial.

So the plan was to plant 100 white oak and 100 pitch pine seedlings with the help of volunteers in addition to our paid crew. Clean up on incessant trash dumping was also needed. Finalizing all the details, I was excited to have a successful and inspirational event.

And as I left my house that fateful morning, the skies opened up and it poured all day nonstop. I arrived at the site with the crew to find emptiness. Needing to plant the 200 hundred trees either way, I headed out to get mulch. Fifteen minutes later I retuned to the site to see about twenty volunteers of all ages lined up with or without rain gear ready to work. We planted all the trees. The event did not include everything that I wanted it to – not even close – because of the pounding rain. But if regular working people are willing to get up early on a Saturday to labor for free in the rain for a good cause, imagine what else they can be motivated to accomplish.

I was so glad to see even a fraction of those folks signed up for the event actually show up. Living in the most densely populated county in the most densely populated state it is often a challenge to find people truly dedicated to helping the environment. Yet as Jane Goodall writes, “if we truly care about the future of our planet we must stop leaving it to “them” out there to solve all the problems. It is up to us to save the world for tomorrow: it’s up to you and me”.