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Junior rangers plant trees at Bently ranch

by Christina Nelson

Junior Rangers held a small forest in the palms of their hands at a tree planting event at Bently’s South Ranch.

About 40 youths from the Boys and Girls Club from Carson City and Minden are part of the Junior Rangers Conservation Through Participation program, part of the American Evergreen Foundation. Their project this week was to plant trees at the Bently South Ranch adjacent to the Gardnerville Ranchos to be used as a wind break once they grow taller. Right now the tiny trees are 5 inches tall but will grow one foot a year.

“We just provided them a place for their project,” said Toni Compston-Wells, an environmental technical engineer at Bently’s. “I really think it’s an opportunity for the kids to learn about the environment and get out of town.”

Many of the youths at the event said the Junior Ranger program is one of the best clubs they’ve ever been involved with.

“When I came out here, I thought it would be like other clubs. But it’s fun because when you work it gives you a lot of strength,” said Mario Dizon, 10, of Carson City.

“I get to help the future by planting the trees to make more air,” said Trevor Dodson, 11, of Carson City.

Dodson’s younger brother, 8-year-old Cody, became involved in the club because of his older brother. Usually only youths 10 to 12 years old participate, but because Cody was a hard worker, they let him join.

“We supply tools to the kids. We supply trees. We supplied these trees today – 600 Colorado blue spruce,” said Richard Van Dyke, executive director of the American Evergreen Foundation.

“We’re out there to help and teach the kids to make conservation a priority,” he said.

Van Dyke came up with the idea for the foundation when he saw the changes in the environment in his home town.

“I grew up in Southern California where you could camp on the beach and you can’t do that anymore,” Van Dyke said.

So far this year, the Junior Rangers have clocked 2,500 hours of volunteer service in the Carson Valley, Washoe Valley and Lake Tahoe.

“The kids have been really excited and involved since we offer it twice a week,” said Melinda Fowler, director of art and education at the Boys and Girls Club.

n Popular program. She said it’s one of the most popular programs at the club and because there’s a waiting list, the kids have to work hard to be Junior Rangers.

The trees will be under a drip water system and the youths will come back later in the year to transplant them to other areas of the ranch for a wind break.

The foundation also works with the Nevada Division of Forestry to promote its educational projects.

For information on American Evergreen Foundation programs, call 1-800-USA-GREEN or go to http://www.usagreen.org.