Pigeon Forge middle schoolers celebrate Arbor Day

Mar. 29, 2013 @ 11:37 PM

Partnering with the city's Parks and Recreation Department, fifth graders at Pigeon Forge Middle School celebrated Arbor Day yesterday with a celebration beginning at 9:30 a.m.  Coordinated by Program Superviser Eli Cockrum, the event included an award ceremony for winners of the Arbor Day poster contest, a Jeopardy! match between the classes, and a presentation by guest speaker Tom Simpson, East Tennessee Regional Urban Forester.

"This is the city's 12th year in hosting this event, and they have one of the best programs I've seen," Simpson said.

Mayor David Wear presented each poster contest winner with a prize pack from Wear Farm City Park, which opened last weekend. In addition, each winner was awarded with an Amazon gift card. Allie Sutton came in first place.  Julie McCarter and Braxton Stout received second and third place awards, respectively.

The theme of this year's poster contest was "Our World Without Trees." Sutton explained that her poster features the Earth, each side with contrasting conditions. One side was vibrant, with sunshine and trees. The other half was dark and gloomy, with no life. She said she was "excited and suprised" to be selected as this year's winner.

Accolades were given to Amanda Parton's classroom for winning the Jeopardy! competition. In addition to a tree trophy to display in their classroom, the students received a bowling and pizza party, donated by the Pigeon Forge Bowling Center. Parton also received a gift card to spend on classroom supplies.

The program concluded with the planting of a tree in front of the school building. Poster winners made the official first digs.

In his presentation to students, Simpson told students that Pigeon Forge is only one of 40 cities in Tennessee to be recognized as a Tree City.  The Tree City USA program is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation, in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service and National Association of State Foresters. The program sets a precedent for the management of urban forestry and provides assistance and recognition to thousands of cities in the United States.

In order for a city to qualify as a Tree City, it must meet four standards. It must maintain a tree board, have a community tree ordinance, spend at least two dollars per capita on urban forestry, and celebrate Arbor Day.

Among the program's benefits, it creates an action framework for the care of urban forests; educates people about the benefits of forestry program; cultivates citizen pride; and promotes a positive public image.

jfrye@themountainpress.com