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Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago

Riverside-Brookfield Landmark: Municipalities across the country celebrated Arbor Day Friday, and Brookfield was no exception. This year, the village recognized the holiday dedicated to planting trees by hosting a public tree planting of its own Friday morning at S. E. Gross Middle School.

At the event, Village Forester Victor Janusz taught about 30 students from Katelyn Ralphson’s sixth grade ELA class about the history of Arbor Day, which originated in 1872 in the United States.

Brookfield Arbor Day Tree Planting
Sixth graders from S. E. Gross Middle School helped shovel dirt onto the base of a newly planted elm tree in front of the school. Village Forester Victor Janusz (right) led the planting event Friday. Credit: Trent Brown

Janusz called on students to explain why they think trees are important and awarded a hat or bracelet to students who came up with original answers. Some of the reasons they gave included that trees filter carbon dioxide from the air and release oxygen, provide habitats for animals and make people feel happier. Janusz also taught the class about how to plant and care for a tree.

Five of the students each read a tree-themed poem they had written in front of the rest of the class. Then, the whole class got their hands dirty, taking turns shoveling dirt from a pile onto the base of the new tree. Once they were done, village forestry staff finished the job.

Janusz said the tree is a triumph elm, which can also be called a “Morton Glossy.” Triumph elms are hybrid cultivars from Morton Arboretum that are bred to be resistant to Dutch elm disease and elm yellows, which can devastate nonresistant elm tree populations.

Brookfield Arbor Day Tree Planting
Gross School students raised their hands to share reasons why trees are so important. Village Forester Victor Janusz (right) handed out bracelets and a hat to the students who could name a unique reason. Credit: Trent Brown

After helping to plant the tree, students received gift bags that each contained an Arbor Day pencil, a pamphlet and poster about how to care for trees, a pinwheel and a bag of wildflower seeds, alongside a bag of dirt and a small planter for the seeds. The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago also provided 20 oak tree saplings that residents attending the tree planting could take home to plant themselves.

Extra gift bags were given to students in other classes while leftover saplings were raffled to students who weren’t present at the tree planting.

The observance of an annual Arbor Day tree planting is one of the requirements for Brookfield to maintain its status as a Tree City USA community, a designation granted to municipalities by the national nonprofit Arbor Day Foundation. The other requirements to become or stay a Tree City USA community include maintaining a tree board, having a tree care ordinance, dedicating at least $2 per capita to an annual forestry budget and proclaiming the last Friday in April as Arbor Day each year. Village President Michael Garvey read Brookfield’s proclamation for this year at the village board’s April 22 meeting. With all of the requirements in place, Brookfield was named a Tree City USA community for 2024, marking the 43rd consecutive year it has kept the status.

Brookfield Arbor Day Tree Planting
Five students read tree-themed poems to their classmates before the class helped plant the village’s newest tree. Credit: Trent Brown
Brookfield Arbor Day Tree Planting
Students waited in line and took turns shoveling dirt from the pile onto the tree’s base while Village Forester Victor Janusz (middle) observed. Once each student took a turn, village forestry staff finished shoveling the dirt onto the tree. Credit: Trent Brown

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Established in 1889, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) is an award-winning, special purpose government agency responsible for wastewater treatment and stormwater management in Cook County, Illinois.


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