Recently I had the honor of working with over 400 landscape industry professionals at the 17th annual PLANET (Professional Landcare Network) Renewal and Remembrance. This event is held each year at Arlington National Cemetery. It is a way for our industry to give back to those individuals and their families who have served their country to the last full measure.
Many of the attendees make this a family event and bring their kids. STIHL is proud to sponsor the children’s program and this year we had over 70 participants ranging from 2 years old to 13. It was so encouraging to see these young people learn about the significance of Arlington, and the need to serve our country. Those interned in Arlington proudly served in our military, and two of our young people honored that service by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown. And through the three projects they tackled, these young people learned that service can take many forms.
Working with Kelly Wilson, the chief horticulturist at Arlington, we planted over 500 Carex plants, a grassy sedge, to help stop hillside erosion in the oldest section of the cemetery. We also planted several saplings, while learning the benefits that trees offer our environment and the visitors. And finally the kids made flower arrangements and laid them on 100 gravesites. Through these projects they learned the power that landscaping has to affect us emotionally and physically and that these effects last for years. Probably one of my most gratifying moments was when one of the older children showed their younger sibling, a first-timer, the flower bed she had planted the year before, now in full bloom.
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Roger Phelps is the Promotional Communications Manager for STIHL Inc. He presently serves on the board of directors for PLANET.