Small hands make big difference in Dixie

Kids work to plant 17, grant-provided trees and shrubs in the former debris pile next to the school's playground Thursday afternoon.

Kids work to plant 17, grant-provided trees and shrubs in the former debris pile next to the school's playground Thursday afternoon. Photo by Jeff Horner.

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DIXIE — School officials are seeing fruit from a seed cultivated late last year, a planting that was also a first for paraeducator Laura Berg.

“I actually found the grant through a website that was for teachers. Usually toward the end of the year there are all kind of freebies you can sign up with,” Berg said, adding she had never applied for a grant before.

The first time proved a charm for Berg, as Dixie School was recently award a $1,700 grant in July by the Captain Planet Foundation to use in developing a small native-species park on what had once been an empty lot across the driveway on the border of the school grounds.

“It kind of became the catch-all and it is an eyesore,” Berg said, referring to what had been an uneven lot of weeds.

All this week, the entire K-5 Dixie School of 33 students has spent PE and music time readying the lot for planting.

“Yesterday (Wednesday), we had kids hauling buckets of water, five-gallon buckets,” paraeducator Kelly Dabulskis said.

With the exception of some initial backhoe work to level the ground, the students have done all the digging, weed pulling and prepping.

“They are a farm community so they have the garden skills,” Dabulskis said.

Captain Planet Foundation is an international environmental education group that funds hands-on youth projects.

Once completed, the park will be used for picnics and sports viewing, have at least one bench and be open to the entire community when school is not in session.

Though the park must be finished by November to meet grant deadlines, Berg noted it will be a long time before the trees have matured and even longer before the students are finished with their work.

“The trees, they are all very small right now. But part of that grant is that we have to keep it weeded and watered and maintained. That is not just something we will walk away from,” Berg said.

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