What two better sluggers to have in your starting lineup? The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education and the 21st Ward Jr. Baseball League. On Earth Day, the two teamed up for a tree planting at the entrance to the ballfields on Port Royal Ave.

In all, the Schuylkill Center had planted 7 swamp oak trees during the Earth Day observances. Five of the oak saplings were planted on the Center’s grounds the following day with a dedication for each by each of the environmentally oriented Nature Preschool classrooms run by the Schuylkill Center. Another was set to root at the Wildlife Rehab Center.

Representing the Schuylkill Center at the ballfield planting were President Mike Weilbacher, Steve Goin (Director of Land and Facilities), Amy Krauss (Director of Communications), and Christopher McGill (President of the Board of Trustees). 21st Ward Board member Mike Rex and Special Projects Manager Jim “Turtle” Marino were batting 1-2 for the Jr. Baseball League.

Kris Soffa, who is on the Advisory Council for the Phila. Parks & Recreation, was joined by David O’Neil and Ellen Tichenor, from Manatawna Farms, who generously donated the oaks.

State Rep. Pam DeLissio eloquently summed up the brief presentations of those who spoke of the significance of planting the oak tree near the ballfield entrance for maximum impact. “Earth Day is a good time to remember and reflect on the critical need to take care of the planet. Planting this white oak today at the entrance to the 21st Ward ballfields is also symbolic. Playing sports provides our children with the opportunity to grow and thrive, as we need this tree to grow and thrive. We need to instill in our children how to grow into unformed and responsible citizens.”

Those sentiments were echoed by the others who spoke of the significance of fostering environmental consciousness in our youngsters. Mike Rex mentioned how the 21st Ward Baseball & Softball Leagues were in the business of “building futures” in not just a physical, but an emotional and social sense, and developing an awareness for the need for stewardship in the immediate world of our young people is an important “parallel relationship.”

Why the Swamp White Oak you might ask? Well, according to Mike Weilbacher, the Swamp White Oak (Quercus Bicolor for you Latin fans) supports more biological diversity than any other local tree. The leaves and acorns provide a premier food source for a myriad of species as well as a high capacity for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Steve Goin pointed out how hardy the White Oak is because of its ability to survive in both wet or dry climates and its propensity to prosper even with extreme temperature conditions.

As players and their families stroll through the entrance on the way to their designated fields, the sight of the oak tree growing will be a continued reminder of their connectiveness to Nature’s cycle of life and a symbolic cue to do one’s part in sustaining our planet in generations to come.

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