Friday, May 25, Bay Area Lions Club member Mary Vasiliauskas and club secretary Priscilla King visited the Stockton Springs Elementary School fourth graders and presented each of the youths with their own tiny trees. Earlier in the week, the women visited the Searsport and Frankfort Elementary Schools to give the seedlings to fourth graders in each of those schools as well.

Each fledgling tree was secured in a sealed plastic bag, explained Vasiliauskas to the students, and keeping them unopened and refrigerated will allow the students to take up to a week to decide where they’d like to plant their trees.

“If you can’t plant it today, leave it sealed in the bag until you can,” she told the children.

King told the students the trees were provided to the Lions through a partnership with the Fourth Grade Foresters Project, a program aimed at revitalizing the recognition of Arbor Day in elementary schools across the country.

“We are happy to reactivate this project locally that has over a one hundred year history: that of having school children take part in the important activity of helping to replant our forests,” stated Bay Area Lions Club president Hollis Bagley and King in a news release about the local effort. “We also, by having the children participate in Fourth Grade Foresters, are taking part in our Lions Club international project — planting one million trees globally.”

Debra Ersch, co-founder of the Fourth Grade Foresters Project, said in the release that the local tree-planting initiative is possible because community businesses and organizations like the Searsport Bay Area Lions Club covered the cost of each individually packaged evergreens so there is no cost to the school or the taxpayers.

“It’s a wonderful way to show support for the community, education and for the environment,” stated Ersch.

Fourth Grade Foresters U.S.A. was created to provide an inexpensive way for any individual, business or organization to send local fourth graders home with their own 12 to 18-inch tree. Workers with disabilities package each of the seedlings, Ersch said.

Adding more trees to the global landscape has several benefits, including cleaning the air we breathe, as trees take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, according to the Fourth Grade Foresters Project website.

King said this is the first year the Bay Area Lions Club has participated in the tree project, and that it’s something other Lions Clubs are doing across the country.

Vasiliauskas said her three children, who are now in their mid- to late 20s, still marvel at the size of the trees they planted at their home when they were children.

“Two of the three of them lived, and it’s been about 15 years,” said Vasiliauskas. “They come home now, and they remember where they planted them.”