As some students at the Lehighton Area Middle School filled a hole with dirt to plant a weeping red bud tree, other students learned from their peers why trees are so important to the environment.

Joe Yescavage, seventh grade science teacher, said some of his students were teaching other students about the purpose of trees.

"My students are doing the teaching today," said Yescavage proudly.

The tree planting and outdoor classes were all part of the annual Arbor Day program held in the outdoor environmental center at the school. The environmental center, an outdoor classroom, was founded by Yescavage 10 years ago to give his students some outdoor hands on instruction.

Each year Yescavage, the Lehighton Shade Tree Commission and PPL come together to help the students celebrate trees. PPL does it's part by donating several young trees to the school's environmental center and seedlings for students to take home and plant to help educate students about proper tree planting for the environment and to protect power lines.

Representing PPL were Phil Walnock, vegetation manager; and Brian Deeken, regional forester. Deeken shared comments about the purpose of planting trees. Among the trees' purposes are: providing a home for wildlife and birds, food for wildlife and birds, plus trees give homes protection from sun and wind, thus helping homeowners with energy costs of cooling and heating homes, plus providing oxygen into the atmosphere.

Walnock said that while trees are useful, it is important to use common sense when planting trees so they don't interfere with power lines when they grow.

Both Walnock and Deeken helped students Thomas Phelan, Daniel Baka and Seth Bednar plant the red bud tree, which already had a few pink spring blooms showing on it's branches.

Walnock explained that it was important to remove the rope on the tree, put to leave the wire basket and burlap intact. He cautioned that any synthetic burlap should be removed when planting a tree, but that any natural burlap should not be removed.

Walnock said that the red bud tree will grow to be about 15 feet tall when mature.

Also making a presentation was Mayor Donald Rehrig who proclaimed April 29, 2011 as Arbor Day in Lehighton. Rehrig allowed several students to help read the proclamation.

In honor of Arbor Day, Frank Snyder, service forester for the Department of Community and Natural Resources declared that Lehighton has been named a Tree City USA for the 18th year.

PPL also donated two arborvitae trees which also were planted in the school's environmental center.

For more information about planning trees see the PPL website at

Anyone planting trees should consider making a call to PA One Call to be assured they are not planting trees on a utility line.