Stream-Link Education has an unusual problem for a nonprofit: it has too many volunteers always willing to help.

Within hours of the Frederick-based environmental organization announcing its five-day series of tree plantings, all of the volunteer slots were taken, said Executive Director John Smucker.

He uses the same approach that he uses in his shop classes at Northwest Middle in Taneytown to encourage people to volunteer by making sure they feel accomplished while also helping a larger cause.

“Without the volunteers, it’s nothing,” Smucker said.

Usually the organization has about 100 volunteers out at once, but that number has decreased to 50 due to the coronavirus. Fifty volunteers came to Linganore Creek on Saturday to plant 400 trees along the water.

When all is said and done, they will have planted 2,000 trees.

Planting trees along the creek is one of the most cost effective ways to clean the water, said Smucker. That’s especially important considering 40 percent of the city of Frederick’s water comes from the lake.

The nonprofit plants about 16 different species of trees including oak, persimmon and hazelnut shrubs. Stream-Link Education promises an 85 percent survival rate of its trees, which requires volunteers to come out and do maintenance on them after they’ve been planted.

Holes for the trees were dug ahead of the event, so the volunteers only had to remove the trees from their pots, put them in the holes and fill them with dirt. They used plastic habitats such as PVC pipes to create a barrier around the tree to protect if from deer and other animals that might chew on the trees. Finally, the volunteers zip-tied the plastic habitat to a wooden stake to keep the tree upright.

Volunteer Maddie Garnes, a senior at Oakdale High School, had been involved with maintenance of the trees this past summer. She also worked with the nonprofit organization to organize a planting of 1,600 trees for her leadership class.

“We’re completely virtual right now so it’s really nice to get out and do other things,” Garnes said. “... And I really wanted to finally help the environment and I didn’t know how. So this was a perfect way to do it.”

Program director Lisa Baird connected with the international nonprofit One Tree Planted about five years ago, when she reached out to them via Instagram to ask about their tree survival rate. Since then, One Tree Planted has been sponsoring some of Stream-Link’s events.

Saturday’s event was part of One Tree Planted’s larger “Plant A Tree Day,” which they are sponsoring throughout the world. More tree plantings are planned for Nov. 7 and 14 at Libertytown Farm on Linganore Creek.

Baird is proud of the network of volunteers that Stream-Link has created, that makes tree plantings such as Saturday’s so efficient and fun.

“I believe in connecting people to nature,” Baird said. “There is something rewarding about knowing what I’m doing on land is affecting the stream next to me.”

Follow Erika Riley on Twitter: @ej_riley.

(2) comments


Trees are terrific and provide a multitude of benefits. This is encouraging!


Our tax dollars should go more towards programs like this one rather than towards paying farmers to control their own pollution. Farmers should be required by regulation (with enforceable provisions for noncompliance) rather than asking them to control their pollution and giving them grant money (in part from taxes) to pay to clean up their pollution. The cost of their pollution control should be figured into the price of their products.

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