MASON CITY — A group of Mason City high schoolers spent this morning planting trees in the Oak Park and Georgia Hanford Park areas that have been damaged by floods as part of a public service project. The Youth Investing Energy in Leadership Development group is made up of juniors from Mason City High School, Newman and the Alternative School who have been identified by school administrators and faculty as future leaders. This year’s students decided to plant fruit trees in Mason City’s flood plain areas to help rejuvenate the land and provide fresh produce for community members.
Jack Hardy brought the idea to the group, saying that other communities who experienced a flood had done similar things. “We had a couple of ideas that were brought, and then we just kind of talked about which ones would be more feasible for our group, which ones we could get the funding for. We decided with this because it was something we could raise money for and it was something that we were passionate about.”
Hardy says the trees should be beneficial to the community. “We knew these trees would survive. I think it will really make a lasting impact considering they are going to be here for the next 30-40 years.”
Sophie Lunning says community members will be able to reap the benefits of fruit growing in a community park setting. “Most of our trees are becoming fruit trees so that if there are homeless here in Mason City that when some of the trees grow a little bigger that there will be fruit for them so they can eat it so they have something.”
Street and Park Maintenance Supervisor Bob Berggren says it’s a great project to help fill a void in the flood buyout area next to Oak Park. “It’s a good plan that they came up with for the property. There’s a bunch of fruit trees here for the use of the public and the wildlife, whatever wildlife eats the fruit, mostly probably deer and other critters like that. It also provides trees for pollination for bees and insects and birds. Good thing for the wildlife and public, and beauty and aesthetics altogether.”
Among the over 50 trees planted near Oak Park and Georgia Hanford Park included apple, wild plum, cherry, pear, elm, maple and Kentucky Coffee.