Scouts Supersize Effort To Restore Native Trees


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Noah Boone and Dylan Filippazzo help unload the planting soil.


A Boy Scout eased a shovelful of manure-soil mix into a hole around a tree sapling.

“Make sure you get them up good and straight,” coached Mark DeVito, a senior wildlife worker for the New Jersey Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Mr. DeVito served as an adult instructor working on a spectacular New Jersey spring Saturday with Verona’s Boy Scout Troop 2 at Black River Wildlife Management Area in Morris County, putting an impressive cap on Earth Day week activities.

The more than a dozen Scouts and adults were helping Troop 2 member John Stockelberg, an eighth grader also working on his Eagle Scout ambitions, embark on a socially distanced effort to plant 575 tree saplings throughout the wildlife management area, part of an effort to reintroduce native species into its 3,000 acres. The saplings will grow into a variety of trees such as cherry, persimmon, red bud, red cedar, Virginia pine, dogwood and winterberry, and rebuild hedgerows that have become overgrown and choked by invasive plant species.

Matthew Isidor and Spence Labonne support fellow Scout John Stockelberg’s project to achieve the BSA Distinguished Conservation Award.

Stockelberg’s project is part of his goal to achieve the BSA Distinguished Conservation Award, which aims to educate youth about environmental management and related careers. At Black River over the past year, while most of New Jersey’s events and activities ground to a standstill due to the COVID Pandemic, Stockelberg has led his Troop 2 colleagues in building and placing 36 bluebird and duck shelters, removing invasive plant species around the preserve and, now, planting the saplings.

Of course these types of experiences are nothing new to Verona Troop 2, which has been in existence for 90 years and includes youth between 5th and 12th grade. To learn more about Verona Troop 2, contact [email protected].

Click here to learn more about New Jersey’s Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Left to right: Spencer Labonne, Andrew Ackerman, James Waugh, Noah Boone, Jack Davis, Andrew Conte, Matthew Perez, Dylan Filippazzo, John Stockelberg, David Held. (not pictured: Matthew Isidor)
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