Two students celebrate Earth Day at the Greater Palm Harbor YMCA.

Students enjoyed planting the microforest for Earth Day.

“I’m so lucky to be here!” As one of the young participants exclaimed these words - they pretty much captured how Acton Academy students felt as they planted a microforest at the Greater Palm Harbor YMCA for Earth Day on April 22, 2024.

A microforest is a dense, tiny forest with high biodiversity. They are essential for environmental restoration, and help to maximize tree density, as well as build climate resilience.  

The 10 students in attendance from grades K-5 planted Gerber daisies, Florida daisies, cockscombs and oak trees outside the front entrance. They enjoyed digging, moving soil and learning how to place plants. Palm Harbor Y’s Youth and Family Program Director, Lynette Allison was overseeing the planting. She notes it was a “wonderful and collaborative experience for our community working with Pinellas County and Acton Academy.”

“The beautification of our YMCA front is an excellent addition to our growing Youth and Families programs. We are eagerly anticipating the upcoming addition of a new Youth & Family field house. A new butterfly garden is coming soon as well, to further enrich our community space!” Lynette said.

Indigo Goldberg, 6, a Kindergartener enjoyed the field trip.

“We are putting the plants in today, and the YMCA is cool for doing this,” she shared.

Rob Moody, co-founder, Acton Academy was at the event. He appreciated the hands-on opportunity provided to the students.  

“Through this collaboration with the Palm Harbor YMCA, we are teaching our learners about Mother Earth and how we must protect it, and how they can be a change for good. We learn by doing at Acton Academy, which is what today is all about,” he explained.  

Kevin McAndrew, Director of Building and Development Review Services, Pinellas County Government was on hand to speak to the students about microforests. He applauded the YMCA for hosting the event.

“This was a unique opportunity to come up with a concept to synchronize with Earth Day. The collaboration with the YMCA makes it extra special. Thanks to this hands-on approach, this is a demonstration garden, which means we need volunteers in the community to participate in it, and that’s happening today.”

Seth Milbrand, District Vice President, YMCA of the Suncoast enjoyed planting alongside students. He was delighted with the event.

“This collaboration to create a first-hand experience for kids to learn about our local environment was a big success. Getting their hands on plants, moving dirt, and learning how all of it positively impacts our community is something we hope the kids will always remember. They learned from county director, Kevin McAndrew, that everything they planted is native to Florida. microforests, like this one, have many benefits to the environment along with being a great place to enjoy nature, even in an urban setting."  

Thank you to the students for their diligence and to everyone for facilitating this Earth Day field trip. 

Published Wednesday, April 24, 2024.