On Friday, April 23, 150 Hanover High School students and 20 teachers dug into a living Earth Day celebration at the Hanover Conservancy’s nearby Mink Brook Nature Preserve to plant 200 native trees. Environmental Club advisers Jeannie Kornfeld and Linda Addante began working with the Conservancy in early 2020 to plan such an event for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, but the pandemic had other plans. Undaunted, the remarkable Hanover High Environmental Club was back this year with a COVID-safe event, visiting the Preserve in small groups to do the planting. Forester Ehrhard Frost of Full Circle Forestry and Conservancy Program Coordinator Courtney Dragiff helped guide the students. The Conservancy has been working to restore native trees on the property ever since acquiring it in 1999, when much of it was covered with invasive plants. The students planted native silver maples and northern red oaks in a section that needs reforestation.
Students in the Environmental Club wanted to involve the school community in a project that would help offset some of the greenhouse gas emissions generated by the school, and also reverse some of the degradation in the Mink Brook Preserve caused by invasive species. The seniors are especially eager to make progress toward meeting the greenhouse gas reduction goals outlined in the HHS climate action plan before graduating this spring.
“Trees give us many gifts – clean air and water, healthy places to recreate, wildlife habitat…and carbon storage,” observes Adair Mulligan, Executive Director of the Hanover Conservancy. “Restoring trees to the landscape is the single best low-tech, low-cost pathway for storing more carbon on the land. We’re delighted to work with the students to help that happen here.”
Hanover High’s Environmental Club meets weekly and runs a school wide composting and recycling program. In 2017 the Earth Systems class, under the guidance of HHS alum Hannah Kornfeld, wrote the first Climate Action Plan of any high school in the United States. A Climate Action Plan Implementation Team (CAPIT) composed of students, teachers, administrators, and community members is working together to carry out the plan. The Club also planted a pollinator garden in 2018.
April 22 marked the 51st anniversary of the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970 – and the beginning of the environmental movement that has inspired so much healthy, positive change in how we treat our home planet. Today, Earth Day is widely recognized as the largest secular observance in the world, marked by more than a billion people each year.
The Conservancy’s 112-acre Mink Brook Nature Preserve protects habitat for wild brook trout, bears, and other wildlife while offering a natural retreat and trail network within walking distance of Hanover High School and downtown. Since ancient times, this region has been the homeland of the Abenaki people, and Mosbasak Sibosis (“Mink Brook” in Abenaki) remains an important center of Indigenous life. Celebrating its 60th anniversary, the Hanover Conservancy is the oldest local land trust in New Hampshire. A private, non-profit organization whose mission is to protect land and waters in the community, its members include nearly a quarter of Hanover households and others throughout the Upper Valley and beyond.
The event was sponsored by Hanover High School’s Environmental Club, the Hanover Conservancy, Full Circle Forestry, and LindeMac Real Estate.