SOUTH FORK, Pa. — Cadets from Girl Scouts of America Troop #46586 braved cold temperatures and some snow Saturday to help the Cambria County Conservation District plant native trees at 1889 Park.
“Anything we can do to improve the park and improve the educational opportunities here,” said CCCD Resource Conservation Supervisor Jackie Ritko.
She led the group in planting the seven species of trees, such as dogwood and sycamore.
“We picked trees that would do well,” Ritko said.
Jessica Poldiak, 14, said she and the others got the idea for the project because part of the park had been logged a few years ago.
The troupe contacted Ritko about it and she was on board immediately.
The saplings were provided by the 10 Million Trees Partnership, a collaborative effort of national, regional, state and local agencies and groups committed to “improving the communities, economy and ecology of Pennsylvania “.
To date, the organization has planted nearly 4 million trees across Pennsylvania.
Troop leader Stacey Thomas said the Girl Scouts often visit the park to walk the trails or take part in activities, so lending a hand to beautify it has special meaning for them.
“We come here often,” she said.
There were about eight girls who helped out on Saturday.
All work for the Silver Award – the second highest in the Girl Scouts – and planting the saplings was part of their job to earn this feat.
There’s an added benefit to placing the trees, Ritko said.
By planting native species, invasive plants, such as Japanese knotweed, will be prevented from rampant.
“It’s important to improve the environment,” said 12-year-old Kaylee Roberts.
She was eager to plant the trees because she loves being in nature and noted the benefits they provide, such as cleaner air.
John Nibert, a longtime member of the 1889 park committee, also stopped by to lend a hand and was happy to see the scouts hard at work.
“We don’t have employees, so volunteers really help us a lot,” he said.
He added that the Girl Scout project was “fantastic” and that the trees were needed.
Joshua Byers is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 814-532-5054. Follow him on Twitter @Journo_Josh.