All for the Earth

Chase Jordan / Sampson Independent Imani Bennett, Isabella Butler and Keyla Osuna participate in Earth Day activities at L.C. Kerr School Wednesday. Along with other students, they were assisted by their teacher, Lauren Faison, school officials and U.S. Cellular associates.

Chase Jordan / Sampson Independent Keyla Osuna and Benjamin Luna sniff chocolate mint plants during an Earth Day project.

Chase Jordan / Sampson Independent Dr. Stuart Blount, superintendent of Clinton City Schools, plants herbs with students at L.C. Kerr School for Earth Day.

Chase Jordan / Sampson Independent Daniel Collins, 4-H Extension agent, speaks with L.C. Kerr School students about herb gardens for Earth Day.

Grinning from ear to ear, and sometimes letting out a squel of delight, a group of L.C. Kerr student enjoyed digging their hands into the rich soli at the school Wednesday and adding some tasty herbs to their garden.

Along with U.S. Cellular officials, the school celebrated Earth Day Wednesday morning by planting herbs donated by the business.Local community leaders such as Jeff Swartz, child nutrition director for Clinton City Schools (CCS), and superintendent Dr. Stuart Blount also joined in on the fun.

“It’s a great learning opportunity for the students and allows them to see and try new things,” Swartz said about the garden, which is included in lessons throughout the year. “We’re also incorporating this into their food so they can see how it taste.”

Students planted lavender, sage, basil and oregano. One of the new herbs included chocolate mint.

“It’ll be interesting for them to try that and see how it comes out,” Swartz said.

Like many others, Swartz believes Earth Day is an important observance. He mentioned the practice of using less chemicals and more natural things.

“We need to be aware of what we’re doing to the earth,” he said. “We need it to be in good shape for future generations…”

U.S. Cellular associates are participating in National Volunteer Month in April through the company’s first ‘Month of Giving’ program. As part of the initiative, the company plans to complete 30,000 volunteer hours before the year ends.

“We’re just excited to be a part of the day and being able to spend time with them,” said Eddie Aycock, local interim sales manager, about volunteering. “This is just a part of it and some of the ways our associates can get involved and it’ll be going on throughout the year. We’re excited about being a part of the community and being able to give back.”

By collaborating with organizations such as Kerr, U.S. Cellular has a goal to impact communities through volunteer efforts which consist of mentorship, clean-up days and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) opportunities throughout the year.

Principal Jan Smith said it’s always exciting to have businesses partner with the school on projects such as the community garden.

“I think the joy on the children’s face just say it all,” Smith said. “They did a wonderful job and we appreciate U.S. Cellular being a part of our garden.”

For Earth Day, Shannon Pearsall, pre-kindergarten teacher, said students are currently learning about the environment and taking care of the planet.

“It’s a great activity to go into conjunction with what we’re already studying,” Pearsall said. “They can learn to be accountable for taking care of our planet. They understand the full cycle. If you take care of the earth, the earth will take care of you.”

The school also partnered with Sampson County 4-H. Daniel Collins, 4-H extension agent, enjoyed being a part of the activity and adding to the school’s raised bed gardens.

“Hopefully they’ll have a little more appreciation for agriculture and growing plants,” Collins said while discussing the importance of Earth Day.

He said the excitement of the children was priceless.

“Being able to celebrate Earth Day and to actually get their hands in the earth was really cool to watch,” Collins said.

Stuart Blount, superintendent of Clinton City Schools, appreciated the work of U.S. Cellular, the students and others involved.

“It’s an opportunity for students to give back to the earth, in remembrance of Earth Day,” Blount said after helping the students. “It’s always great to see our students and children enjoying getting their hands dirty and planting some plants.”