Metolius students help plant ponderosa pine trees at the youth fishing pond to celebrate.

SUSAN MATHENY/MADRAS PIONEER - Metolius Elementary fifth-graders, from left, Nathan Covarrubias, Traegan Campbell, Gerald Spiller, Jayden Moll Palono, Steven Johnson and Hector Llanos smear peanut butter on pine cones to make bird feeders at an activity table run by Madras High School agriculture students at the Madras Arbor Day celebration on April 27. The slathered cones were rolled in bird seed and then had strings attached for hanging in a tree. The city of Madras was marking its 25th year as a Tree City USA. 
Four new ponderosa pine trees were planted around the county's youth fishing pond by Metolius Elementary fifth-graders, and a "Tree City USA" flag was presented to the city of Madras on April 27, in celebration of Arbor Day.

Katie Lompa, community assistance forester with the Oregon Department of Forestry, noted this was the 25th year Madras has received the Tree City USA distinction.

"I am thrilled to congratulate you on being recognized as a Tree City USA for tree-related activities done in 2017. This is an accomplishment 63 Oregon communities and over 5,500 communities nationwide share," she said, but not many cities have earned the award for 25 years.

To qualify for the honor, a city must have an urban forestry commission, have a tree care ordinance, a community forestry program that budgets $2 per resident for tree care, and hold an Arbor Day event.

Lompa said trees in a city, or urban forests, provide many benefits. Trees help filter air and water, control storm water, conserve energy, provide animal habitat and shade, add beauty to a city, reduce noise and provide places to recreate.

Mayor Royce Embanks proclaimed April 27 as Arbor Day in the city of Madras, and accepted the Tree City USA flag along with Urban Forestry Commission members Lucas Pagano, Gary Walker (also on city council), John Arena, Bill Donaghu and Becky Burchell.

Following the flag presentation, Metolius students the planted trees, assisted by Madras High School forestry students. Then they visited stations set up by MHS agriculture students where they could make a pinecone birdfeeder, and play a game guessing what products do and don't come from trees.

Shrotly thereafter, the fifth-graders ran out to a nearby plowed field and began picking rocks. "They can earn Sparrow hours for their volunteer service," explained teacher Carrie Dunten. Sparrow hours earn funds to help with medical needs for a "Sparrow child" the school has adopted.

The elementary students received free pine seedlings to take home and plant, while winners of the Arbor Day poster contest will get free birdhouses. The poster winners were: fifth grade, Ava Friederichs and Gillian Ahern; fourth grade, Ava Leach, Alicia Quinto, Josie Scott and Olivia Pack; third grade, Tryg Zemke, Brayden Hornbeck, Ada Lark, and Sawyer Rhodes; and life skills students Isack Harrison and Emma Donaldson.

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