Cub Scouts in Pack 101 got their hands dirty planting 75 trees at the POPS Club, thanks to help from a forester with the Missouri Department of Conservation, parents and Pack leaders on Tuesday, April 19.

Cub Scouts in Pack 101 got their hands dirty planting 75 trees at the POPS Club, thanks to help from a forester with the Missouri Department of Conservation, parents and Pack leaders on Tuesday, April 19.

David Vance, a forester with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), handed each Scout a book detailing Missouri’s trees. After teaching the Scouts facts about trees and the many ways trees impact nature, everyone headed outside to plant Redbud trees throughout the area, with MDC Arbor Day celebrations a little more than a week away.

One Scout asked Vance how long roots grow to be, and Vance said they grow out as far as the branches, but they don’t grow down. When the question popped up about why we need trees, several Scouts offered answers, including health benefits, food, fuel and homes for animals.

Vance added paper and syrup to the list, asking the Scouts if they could imagine a life without Maple syrup for pancakes. The consensus was a resounding “no” from each corner of the room.

Cubmaster Matt Lawson held up a portion of a tree trunk, asking the Scouts how to determine a tree’s age. Almost every Scout put their hands in the air, and they were soon examining the network of rings hidden beneath the bark.

Vance said he talks with children each year close to Arbor Day, sharing the importance of trees. Each time, he notices that youth know a great deal about what comes from trees once they start talking about them. And Vance hoped that cultivating an appreciation for trees early in life would carry on into adulthood.

After Vance told the Scouts about details like the properly-sized hole to dig for their new tree, mulch application and how sensitive a young tree’s bark is, he said, “Let’s go plant some trees!”

The entire group headed toward the wooded area, splitting into teams of fellow Scouts, parents and Pack leaders.

As Andy See helped his son, Jacob, plant a new tree, he said he planted chinkapin pine trees in 2007, the year Jacob was born. They both said they enjoyed watching the trees grow up along during those years, and they enjoyed the chance to plant these threes together.

“It’s a lot of fun, and it’s awesome that we actually get to plant them with our parents,” Jacob said.

He and his father agreed that the evening served as a learning opportunity and a chance to help the environment.

Fellow Scout David Herd said digging the holes for the trees was the most fun part of the process, and he enjoyed “making air,” too. Scout Noah Heimer said animals, other plants and humans received countless benefits from trees, including helping people with ADHD. He pointed to the various trees surrounding the group, observing the differences like leaf shapes and sizes, bark characteristics, lifespan and if the tree produced flowers. He pointed out that the air trees produce each day affects billions of people.

Fellow Scout Garrett Heaton agreed about what made the Pack activity so important.

“It’s kind of fun, because it helps make oxygen for nature,” he said.

Reach reporter Trevor McDonald at trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com