Martin Luther King, Jr. was most well-known for his role as a civil rights activist, but he also understood the need for balance with nature.
Early Saturday morning, Fuquay-Varina residents gathered at the Carroll Howard Johnson Environmental Education Park on Wagstaff Road to give back in honor of King. As part of the National Day of Service, called for by President Barack Obama, the Center for Human-Earth Restoration set up the project to plant 34 Chokeberry trees in the flood plane at the park.
Randy Senzig, president and board chair for the center, said King’s “Cosmology of Connectedness” speech in December 1967 showed his understanding of nature’s importance. So, this was a great way to honor him.
Volunteer Tricia Kitto said she was inspired by King’s story and his love of community.
While she said it was hard to get up on the cold Saturday morning, she was happy to help.
“(King) had to overcome a lot more than 26 degrees,” she said.
Tricia and her son, John, came out to help dig holes and plant trees. They learned about the project after seeing a post on Twitter about the National Day of Service.
Tricia went to the White House website and put in the Fuquay-Varina zip code to find ways to volunteer locally. Not only was the tree planting project close to home, but Tricia said it was a cause she liked as well.
“It certainly is a worthy project,” she said.
John said it’s great to encourage the National Day of Service, but he wanted to get out and actually participate.
The Chokeberries were donated by a nursery in Durham and the project was approved by Fuquay’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department. During the fall months, students from Fuquay-Varina Middle School helped remove invasive species from the area in preparation for the project.
The trees, natural hybrids between the red and black Chokeberries, are purple. They are native to the Piedmont area and grow to be eight to 12 feet tall and about nine feet wide.
In May, the trees’ white flowers will bloom and they will bear fruit into the middle of the winter, offering food for the local birds.
The Center for Human-Earth Restoration does many projects throughout the year. Iris Senzig, the center’s chief operating officer, said through the CORES (Character growth through Observation, Restoration, Ecology and Scientific principles) project, eighth grade students went to the park nine times during the fall. They will return in February and March.
Iris said the purpose of the project is to help students feel that they can express themselves in a natural way. Many students use time in the park to journal and take a timeout from their hectic, electronic-filled day.
The center will begin a program with high schoolers this spring. And the Earth Elder Revolution will start soon as well. The five-week class for retirees will help develop an environmental project that can be monitored over several months, giving locals the chance to become more connected with nature.
Contact Kelly Griffith at email@example.com or 919-552-5675.