La Paloma fifth graders plant native plants at Heller’s Bend Preserve

FALLBROOK – On Friday morning, Jan. 18, approximately 100 fifth graders from La Paloma Elementary School, four of their teachers and several parent volunteers from the school worked with 14 adult volunteers from Save Our Forest and the Fallbrook Garden Club to plant native plants at Heller’s Bend Preserve.

It was a beautiful morning, and due to the recent rains, the ground was soft for easy digging. These students were excited to plant the same plants they had started in gallon pots at their school site a year ago.

Jean Dooley, a retired public school teacher and active Save Our Forest volunteer, had visited their fourth grade classrooms to talk with the students about the value of a healthy vegetated environment; the need to select plants native to the area that do not require a lot of water, and the value of community service.

She emphasized the importance that trees and plants play in creating a healthful environment. Following the classroom presentation, the students were invited to begin their community service by transplanting small plants into gallon containers.

That planting experience occurred with Save Our Forest volunteers assisting the students around a truck filled with potting soil, empty one gallon pots and the baby plants. Save Our Forest volunteers then took these potted plants to a nursery where they were cared for until it was time to put them into the ground almost a year later.

Every planting field trip to Heller’s Bend starts with some invigorating morning exercise. Students, teachers and volunteers climb a fairly steep hill to reach the planting area. The hike up the hill takes 10-15 minutes and requires some rather heavy breathing. The glorious sunshine and view from the planting area near the top of the hill, however, are well worth the energy exerted.

Students can look around the planting site and see the results of the planting field trips by previous classes of La Paloma fifth graders. The community volunteers always encourage the students to bring their families back to the preserve to view the plant that they put into the ground that day, and to be proud of their contribution to the environment and to the community of Fallbrook.

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