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Rotary tree-planting project expands to include new location

By Tabitha Johnston - Chronicle Staff | Oct 30, 2020

Tree planting volunteers at Morgan's Grove Park stand behind the final tree they planted on Saturday morning. Standing from left, are Jefferson High School student Jessica Wolfe; Hayley Chesworth, Rotary Youth Exchange student from Australia; Cara Keys, of Harpers Ferry; Fred Dalauro, of Shepherdstown; Diane Solbach, of Martinsburg; John Taylor, of Martinsburg; Daan Vreugdenhil, of Shepherdstown; Shepherdstown Rotary Club President Terry Anderson, of Shepherdstown; and Margaret Tice, of Harpers Ferry. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Community members gathered with their face masks and shovels at Elmwood Cemetery on Saturday morning, to participate in the Shepherdstown Rotary Club’s third annual tree planting event.

CommuniTree Coordinator Jeff Iliff, of the Cacapon Institute began the event by demonstrating how volunteers should plant the 16 trees donated by his organization to the project. Following that, the almost 40 volunteers at the event divided into two groups, to plant trees at Elmwood Cemetery and at Morgan’s Grove Park.

According to event assistant organizer Steve Campbell, of Shepherdstown, this is the first year the project has been at a location other than the cemetery. The event was jointly organized by Shepherdstown Community Club President Jennifer Wabnitz and Shepherdstown Rotary Club members Teri Biebel and Lois Turco.

“We usually do it all at Elmwood Cemetery, but this year they wanted to save some space, so we split the 16 trees between the two locations,” Campbell said. “It’s a good activity for Rotarians to do outside and give back to the community.”

According to Campbell, all 32 trees the club has planted in previous years are still thriving, thanks to the Shepherdstown Volunteer Fire Department for watering the new ones weekly, during the summer. All of the trees that have been donated by the Cacapon Institute to the project are native to the area, Campbell said.

Newly-planted trees surround a picnic table in Morgan's Grove Park on Saturday morning. Tabitha Johnston

“The Cacapon Insitute really likes encouraging volunteerism like this. They donated the trees, the stakes, the mulch, the tree guards and the arbor ties in exchange for volunteerism here today,” Campbell said, mentioning having two tree planting locations this year worked out in everyone’s favor. “Because of COVID-19, the Cacapon Institute didn’t want as many people to show up at the same time and place, so they encouraged us to split up.”

According to Shepherdstown Rotary Club President Terry Anderson, although the club’s community service projects are intended to improve the world around them, they also help the club itself.

“The hope for the outcome of this project, of course, is beautifying our lovely town, as well as developing relationships and friendships,” Anderson said. “It also builds camaraderie.”

One of the Shepherdstown Rotary Club volunteers at the event, John Taylor, said this was the first year he and his partner have participated in this community service project.

“We enjoy being with everybody and trying to help out whenever we have time! It’s a wonderful group of people to spend a morning with,” Taylor said. “It’s nice to have a chance to get together with your friends outdoors like this!”

The tree-planting event was jointly organized, from right, by Shepherdstown Community Club President Jennifer Wabnitz and Shepherdstown Rotary Club members Teri Biebel and Lois Turco. Courtesy photo

Although Taylor lives in Martinsburg, he chose to join Shepherdstown’s chapter of the club when he moved to the Eastern Panhandle last year, due to its commitment to local and international community service.

“This club does a lot of good stuff, so it’s nice to be a part of it. When I was looking for a new club to join after moving here, I noticed that this club had a very active international committee,” Taylor said, mentioning the committee has helped support his own passion project, of bringing clean water to El Salvador.