This story was written by student Nina Allison
For some people, being a tree-hugger is just a hobby. For Rachel Holmes, however, it’s a career!
As an urban forester, she understands that there is an abundance of rewards to urban trees, 22 in fact. This is the number of benefits that come from trees you would find living in an enclosed space on the sidewalk.
Street trees, as they are called, must work harder than other trees in the country to survive in harsh urban environments. Therefore, it is quite important that we keep them strong and healthy so they can create enough oxygen to go around.
Ms. Holmes knows the importance of street trees, and when she was in the fifth grade, that knowledge came in to play. The Department of Public Works in her hometownhad decided to repave her roads, and along with repaving the roads came repaving the sidewalks.
To repave the sidewalks seemed like a simple task, but they had to extract all the trees from their homes to be able to do that. Rachel demanded that the act be stopped, but the streets were repaved nonetheless, and her mother removed her from the situation before things got ugly. Ever since the incident, she has felt that it is her responsibility to take care of the trees.
She acquired her graduate degrees from Yale University in forestry and divinity, and has been working happily in her field ever since. You may be wondering how forestry and divinity are anything alike, but they actually have a lot in common. Holmes believes that religion can have an effect on how we behave and why we do things, such as recycle.
April is an especially busy month for the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), the department for which Rachel Holmes works. For example, EarthDay, the day where people across the world appreciate our environment and natural resources a little more than we usually do, is approaching quickly.
While Earth Day is technically on the 22nd of April, will be celebrated on the 21st this year. There are fun activities and events held at Hamden Middle School to celebrate this special day, but there is a deeper meaning behind Earth Day than just face painting and food.
Earth Day is a day to get outside and cultivate our natural surroundings, seeing that more and more trees are being cut down, and more wooded areas are being turned into places like shopping malls every year.
So, what can you do to contribute to Earth Day, or any day? Rachel understands that many people would rather be inside texting on their iPhones or playing video games, but she encourages them to “lose a life” on your game and go outside.
There are many options to how you can support the environment around you. Picking up litter, for instance. Even planting a little tree can make a difference. Rachel explains that, while you may not see the results of planting your tree any time soon (you may not even see the results in your lifetime), they will be there, and you will be helping.
There are so many opportunities to keep Hamden’s environment safe and healthy, and with the help of people like Rachel Holmes, we really can make a difference.