Gov. Markell celebrates Arbor Day with over 500 students at McIlvaine Early Childhood Center

 

At left, Governor Markell addresses over 500 enthusiastic kindergarten students at McIlvaine Early Childhood Center as Caesar Rodney School District Superintendent Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald looks on. At right, newly named "Delaware Principal of the Year" Dr. Sherry Kijowski presides over the ribbon-cutting ceremony to unveil the school's new "Tree Walk & Talk Arboretum."
At left, Governor Markell addresses over 500 enthusiastic kindergarten students at McIlvaine Early Childhood Center as Caesar Rodney School District Superintendent Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald looks on. At right, McIlvaine’s newly-named “Delaware Principal of the Year” Dr. Sherry Kijowski presides over the ribbon-cutting ceremony to formally dedicate the school’s new “Tree Walk & Talk Arboretum” as part of Arbor Day ceremonies.

 

MAGNOLIA, Del. (May 14) – Governor Jack Markell celebrated Arbor Day by joining over 500 kindergarten students at McIlvaine Early Childhood Center for a ribbon-cutting to unveil the school’s new “Tree Walk & Talk Arboretum.” Gov. Markell also honored winners of the Delaware Forest Service’s annual Arbor School Poster Contest and joined in commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the adoption of the American holly as Delaware’s state tree in 1939.

A complete gallery of Arbor Day event photos is at the Delaware Forest Service’s Facebook Page. High-resolution images of Arbor Day Poster Winners are at: http://delawaretrees.com/2014arbordayceremony.html

Forestry officials also announced plans for the State of Delaware to purchase four parcels of Sussex County forestland in the next year at a cost of $1.35 million. The properties, which will become part of the 12,400-acre Redden State Forest in Georgetown, marks the final phase of the state’s ten-year “Green Horizons Project” that has permanently protected over 4,000 acres since 2004.

Map shows location of four parcels totaling 370 acres that are slated for purchase in 2014.
The State of Delaware plans to purchase 370 acres of forest at a cost of $1.35 million, with funding provided by the U.S. Forest Legacy Program, Delaware’s Open Space Program, and The Conservation Fund.

McIlvaine Early Childhood Center (MECC) in Magnolia is the state’s largest all-day kindergarten program with over 500 students. As a pilot site for Governor Markell’s World Language Initiative (WLI) Program, MECC features the state’s only Chinese language immersion program. About 100 kindergartners spend half their day learning literacy, math, science and social studies in Chinese and the other half in English speaking classes. WLI was successfully launched thanks to the efforts of Kevin Fitzgerald, Caesar Rodney School District superintendent, Sherry Kijowski, McIlvaine Early Childhood Center principal, and Brook Castillo, assistant principal.

MECC’s new “Tree Walk and Talk Arboretum” is the centerpiece of the school’s effort to incorporate “placed-based” environmental learning as part of Delaware’s “No Child Left Inside” initiative. Funded by a “GreenWorks!” grant from the American Forest Foundation’s Project Learning Tree Program, the project was completed with the help of the Delaware Forest Service, MECC staff and students, the Caesar Rodney High School FFA, and local businesses. The arboretum was completed at a planting event at the school on May 7. Photos of the planting event can be found at the Forest Service Facebook page.

A sign in McIlvaine's new arboretum appears in four languages: English, Latin, Spanish, and Chinese.
A sign in McIlvaine’s new arboretum appears in four languages: English, Latin, Spanish, and Chinese.

The Delaware Forest Service’s Arbor Day School Poster Contest is an annual competition open to students in grades K to 5 in all public, private, charter, and home schools. Winners are chosen from each county in four categories: kindergarten, grades 1-2, grades 3-4, and grade 5. This year’s state winner was Isabella Garber, a Grade 5 student at Christ the Teacher School in Newark.

From left, Rep. Harvey R. Kenton joins the fifth-grader Isabella Garber of Christ the Teacher School in Newark, winner of the state's Arbor Day school poster contest, and Gov. Markell.
Rep. Harvey R. Kenton (R-36) and Governor Jack Markell (at right) join fifth-grader Isabella Garber of Christ the Teacher School in Newark, winner of the state’s Arbor Day school poster contest at the awards ceremony at McIlvaine Early Childhood Center in Magnolia.

Forestry officials also noted that 2014 marks the 75th anniversary of the adoption of American holly (Ilex opaca) as Delaware’s official state tree in 1939. At the time, Delaware was known throughout the United States as the “Land of Holly” because it was a leading exporter of holly holiday wreaths.

The “Green Horizons Project” is a multi-year effort to save working forests from future development. A successful partnership between the State of Delaware, the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program, and nonprofit organizations including The Conservation Fund, the successful ten-year effort will culminate this year with the planned acquisition of 370 acres of Sussex County forestland at a total cost of $1.35 million. To date, Green Horizons has permanently protected over 4,000 acres of forests – which provide the public with cleaner water, opportunities for recreation and hunting, and places for wildlife habitat and observation.

At the ceremony, Delmarva Power received the Tree Line USA Award for meeting standards set by the National Arbor Day Foundation. The company also donated 30 trees for tree planting events at schools of winning poster contest entrants, as well as community Arbor Day events for Delaware’s Tree City USA communities.

From left, Michael Krzyzanowski, Delmarva Power's Vegetation Management for its  New Castle Region, and Michael Casmay, Staff Forester, receive the Tree Line USA Award from Governor Markell.
From left, Michael Krzyzanowski, Delmarva Power’s Vegetation Management for its New Castle Region, and Michael Casmay, Staff Forester, receive the Tree Line USA Award from Governor Markell.

2014 Arbor Day Poster Contest Winners

NEW CASTLE COUNTY
Kindergarten:  Isaiah Ngugi, Kathleen Wilbur Elementary, Bear

Grades 1 to 2: Jonathan Eppler, Jennie Smith Elementary, Newark

Grades 3 to 4: Maya Rigor, Christ the Teacher, Newark

Grade 5: Isabella Garber, Christ the Teacher, Newark

KENT COUNTY
Kindergarten: Caden John Marx, Maj. George Welch Elementary, Dover

Grades 1 to 2: Holly Helsdon, Nellie H. Stokes Elementary, Dover

Grades 3 to 4: Taryn Martin, W.B. Simpson Elementary, Camden

Grade 5: Juan Velasquez, Benjamin Banneker Elementary, Milford

SUSSEX COUNTY
Kindergarten: Tyler Hutt, Eagle’s Nest Christian School, Milton

Grades 1 to 2: Samuel Winston, Winston Learning Academy, Milford

Grades 3 to 4: Rain Vasey, Watergirl Farm Academy, Lincoln

Grade 5: Stephen Venable, Honor Academy, Milford

 


Smokey Bear takes fire safety message to Delaware’s largest kindergarten program (photos)

An estimated 535 kindergarten students at McIlvaine Early Childhood Center in Magnolia got a first-hand lesson in fire safety and prevention from the iconic Smokey Bear, with each child asked to pledge “never to play with matches” and parting with a gift bag of Smokey Bear school supplies. McIlvaine, located in the Caesar Rodney School District and representing the largest kindergarten program in the First State, was an ideal audience for Smokey’s timeless message that “Only you can prevent wildfires.”

The annual wildfire prevention program, sponsored by the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service and coordinated by Trainer-Educator Ashley Peebles, is timed to coincide with the observance of National Fire Prevention Month in October. The interactive school-based program, which reaches approximately 9,000 students each year, discusses the many benefits of trees (oxygen, food, shelter, shade and heat, wildlife habitat, and wood products) and then explains why it’s so important to protect them from fire. After a short video about the dangers of wildfire, students get the chance to meet Smokey Bear in person and are asked to take the “Smokey Pledge” to never play with matches and to always be careful with fire. As a commemorative gift, each student receives a gift bag of Smokey Bear school supplies.
While the program is targeted squarely at the youngest students in Delaware’s schools, most of the gift bags are prepared through the generosity and selfless efforts of senior citizen volunteers from Dover and Wilmington. As they have done for many years, seniors from Dover’s Modern Maturity Center prepared 2,000 gift bags for the Smokey Bear program, and, also this year, volunteers from Park View Apartments in Wilmington also prepared 2,000 bags.

For more information, contact Ashley Peebles at 302-698-4551 or ashley.peebles@delaware.gov.

The Delaware Forest Service's  Ashley Peebles hands a Smokey gift bag of school supplies to kindergarten student Paul Bonavita after he pledges to Smokey Bear that he will never play with matches.  He was one of an estimated 535 kindergarten students who participated in the fire prevention program at McIlvaine Early Childhood Center in Magnolia, the largest program in the First State.
The Delaware Forest Service’s Ashley Peebles hands a gift bag of Smokey Bear school supplies to kindergarten student Paul Bonavita after he pledged to Smokey Bear that he will never play with matches. The Forest Service presented their annual fire prevention program this week to an estimated 535 students at McIlvaine Early Childhood Center in Magnolia – the largest kindergarten program in the First State.

 

Smokey Bear_McIlvaine Early Childhood Center_2013 (2)
Smokey Bear greeted kindergarten student Avery Lykens as part of the Delaware Forest Service’s annual fire prevention and safety program held at McIlvaine Early Childhood Center in Magnolia. An estimated 535 students took part and were asked to pledge never to play with matches as part of National Fire Prevention Month in October.

Smokey Bear_McIlvaine Early Childhood Center_2013 (3)
Taking the pledge: Smokey Bear greets kindergarten students William Lorentz (shaking hands) and Drake Nelson as they pledge to never play with matches as part of the Delaware Forest Service’s annual wildfire safety and prevention program that was presented to an estimated 535 students at McIlvaine Early Childhood Center in Magnolia.

Delaware Forest Service Education Coordinator Ashley Peebles hands a gift bag of Smokey Bear school supplies to James Callis, one of 535 kindergarten students at McIlvaine Early Childhood Center in Magnolia that participated in the annual fire safety and prevention program featuring Smokey Bear.
Delaware Forest Service Education Coordinator Ashley Peebles hands a gift bag of Smokey Bear school supplies to James Callis, one of 535 kindergarten students at McIlvaine Early Childhood Center in Magnolia who participated in the annual fire safety and prevention program featuring Smokey Bear. The Forest Service-sponsored program reaches approximately 9,000 children in Delaware each year.

Dorothy Rice was part of the group of volunteers at Park View Apartments in Wilmington who helped prepare 2,000 Smokey Bear gift bags for the Delaware Forest Service's annual fire prevention education program.
Dorothy Rice was part of the group of volunteers at Park View Apartments in Wilmington who helped prepare 2,000 Smokey Bear gift bags for the Delaware Forest Service’s annual fire prevention education program.