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Sixth-grader's deforestation project leads to a ‘botanical sanctuary’ in Harriman


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  • Provided photo Samantha Wilson of Harriman planted 19 trees and plants this summer as part of a “botanical sanctuary” to be located at the corner of River Road and Main Street.



By Christine Urio

— Tree by tree, sixth-grader Samantha Wilson is not only changing her village, but the world.

After picking the topic of deforestation for a school project last year, Samantha - a Harriman resident - learned more about the issue. While she initially didn’t find the topic interesting, it soon blossomed into a passion she had to help save the environment.

“After spending about a month learning about it, I had thought about it more and realized it was an important topic,” Samantha said. “It was a project called ‘Scamper’ where we had to pick a world problem and fix it in our own way.”

From her research, Samantha discovered the importance of deforestation and wanted to educate others about it so they could be aware of their actions and cut down fewer trees.

“Trees are what supply our oxygen and if we cut the trees down, it takes away a more important source of oxygen," she said. "And that is obviously a very big problem."

The student and the mayorSeeking to address this issue, she contacted Harriman Mayor Steve Welle and sought permission to find a spot in village where she could plant trees.

“He said it was a great idea and the following week we went in and had a meeting with him in his office,” said Samantha. “It’s a good plan since trees supply oxygen, and the more oxygen the better, right? Also, trees are pretty and they can be a great source for some beauty in our community.”

Working with the Harriman DPW during the summer, Samantha planted of 19 trees and plants.

Welle designated Samantha’s “botanical sanctuary” to be located at the corner of River Road and Main Street since the spot was vacant and has lots of visibility to the community.

“Cars usually drove through the space and it would be nice if there was something to prevent that from happening,” Samantha said. “Next year the village is planning to put up a guard rail around the perimeter.”

Donations from two nurseriesWelle wrote a letter for Samantha to take to local area nurseries to see if they would make a donation to her project and both Devitt's Nursery & Supply in New Windsor and Garden Gate Nursery in Chester were receptive to the idea.

“It's important to us both that the community knows about these two wonderful places and they get proper credit,” said Samantha’s mother, Debbie Wilson. “They were both very generous and wonderfully receptive and helpful.”

What the future holdsKnowing it’s a rare thing to accomplish, Samantha is proud knowing she has impacted the world. As for the future, she’s not sure where she wants to see her project go.

“I guess I'm going to wait and see what happens before I make any additions, though I do want to make a little decorative stone to top it all off,” she said. “All I want for the trees and plants is for them to grow up to be strong. I know that they will be great after what I did.”


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