As a result of COVID-19, student volunteer opportunities have been limited or cancelled. In order to create new ways for students to get involved in their communities, and to take steps to correct the damage to the environment due deforestation, the National Honors Society is hosting a TreePlenish event.
“Many of our events were cancelled this year and we wanted to do something that would make an impact on our community but at the same time respect the restrictions in place due to the pandemic,” National Honors Society sponsor Laura Turngren said. “We partnered with the TreePlenish organization to replenish the trees we consumed during the 2019-2020 school year. This is a great message to spread in the community that we have a responsibility to our local environment.”
The National Honors Society worked alongside the high school, local organizations and the Barrington community as a whole to facilitate this event. Turngren, along with National Honors Society President, Grace Tripathy, and Vice President, Amelia Sigaev, partnered with TreePlenish, a student led organization that aims to create a more sustainable school system by planting trees to essentially replenish the ones lost. Tree-Plenish is the primary sponsor of the event.
“The high school is simply providing the space in the parking lot to host the event, but really the TreePlenish organization is the central sponsor who is providing all of the trees, helping with all of the publicity materials, and is helping to mentor the students through the planning process,” Turngren said.
The Tree-Plenish event will be held on April 17. To prepare, community members have been signing up for trees to be planted on their properties. These trees will be planted by National Honors Society members, as well as other students who wish to participate. Volunteers can sign up in groups of two to three, and each team will be assigned four to five addresses to visit. There is also an option for homeowners to visit a student-run drive thru at the high school to pick up their own tree to plant.
In order to comply with COVID-19 restrictions, volunteers must be masked at all times, and teams can only consist of members from no more than two households. Volunteers must also provide their own form of transportation and shovels to minimize risk. The students running the drive thru will maintain a six foot distance.
“This event is great in the sense that it is going to be extremely easy to socially distance and only stay with your party or family,” Sigaev said. “People can order trees and pick them up through a drive through requiring no contact and will be wearing masks in the process. After getting their tree, they can choose to plant it alone or socially distanced with a volunteer.”
Currently, the National Honors Society does not have plans for a Tree-Plenish event next year. However, Turngren hopes that there will be a future opportunity for students to give back to their community in the future.
“This school year our ability to hold service projects is quite limited,” Turngren said. “We hope that next year we can offer another opportunity to get the community involved in a project and we are always open to suggestions and causes we can learn more about!”
If you wish to get involved, visit https://www.tree-plenish.org/barrington.