The Berks-Mont News (

Kutztown 7th graders reduce carbon footprint

By Lisa Mitchell, The Kutztown Area Patriot

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Kutztown Middle School students planted trees and shrubs around their school this week.
“In order to reduce our carbon footprint,” said Life Science long-term substitute teacher Matthew Esser, Kutztown.
The 106 seventh graders planted trees around the school building that will grow to be about 20 feet tall to help insulate the building so the brick will not heat up during the summer and reduce cooling expenses. During fall, the leaves will drop and allow the brick to heat up, reducing heating expenses.
“Also the trees are all native to the area so the insects will come out and help out with the trees and our class can come down here and study the insects and see how everything’s growing together,” said Esser.
He hopes students gain the knowledge of how to reduce their carbon footprints, their footprint on the Earth.
“It’s a nice hands-on, have fun in science and learn about how they can reduce their footprints,” he said.
Students also planted shrubs to reduce erosion around the side of a drainage basin, which would normally need to be mowed regularly. The hope is that the shrubs will reduce how often the basin needs to be mowed, and “reduce the costs of our school,” said Esser.
Larry Lloyd of the Berks County Conservancy taught the students how to plant their trees and shrubs from digging the hole to tamping the dirt down and watering them.
Students eagerly grabbed shovels and tampers, planting trees and shrubs around their school building, one saying, “This is so much fun!”
Others named their trees, like Steve Martin, Junior, and Arnold.
Pointing out that the brick on the side of the building felt warm to the touch, Lloyd explained how the trees will shade the school in the summer.
“All these plants are going to help us with our energy bill,” said Lloyd.
He encouraged the students to not only think about reducing their carbon footprint at school, but also at home, at church and where they play.
“Trees help us to breathe, keep our carbon footprint down and Greenhouse gases from building up, CO2.”
Esser also encouraged residents to find ways to reduce their carbon footprint.
“As an individual, you might not feel like doing a little step is that big of a deal,” said Esser, “but if everyone does it, if my class does it, if the next class does it, everyone teaches each other how to respect the planet, we can make a big impact and change the world.”