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In 1971, Dr. Seuss gave us The Lorax. You know him — the short, orange fellow with a mustache who works tirelessly to protect the trees. The book — and later movies — would show The Lorax fighting to save the environment, encouraging all citizens to pay attention and care about the natural world surrounding us. As we look towards Earth Day on April 22, I thought it was worth encouraging us all to take a minute to care about our natural world.

My mom was a big fan of The Lorax. Not only did she love Dr. Seuss and his creativity in engaging kids, but she also loved trees. She really loved trees. When she wasn’t in her West Middle School sixth-grade classroom teaching social studies, she could often be found at Camp Hashawha working as a naturalist or on the Eastern Shore’s Smith Island, where she worked for a program called Living with the Land.

Last spring, over a series of weeks, Outdoor School students worked with the staff at Camp Hashawha and Bear Branch Nature Center to plant more than 350 trees in honor of my mom, who passed away in 2008. No, they are not The Lorax’s Truffula trees, but they are a variety of trees that will thrive here — varieties of maples and oaks among others.

Being at Hashawha with Outdoor School students on a beautiful, warm spring day, with my sisters, kids, and my mom’s best friends, putting our hands in the dirt and planting a forest in my mother’s name, was about as close as I can get to a spiritual experience. I participated in a couple of the planting days, and I am confident there could not be a more fitting legacy for my mom.

I visited the trees recently; many appear to be doing well in their new homes. I smile when thinking of all the hands that helped put these trees in the ground and how those Outdoor School students will return in the years to come to see their handiwork and to say they were a part of bringing this forest to fruition.

I encourage everyone to check out “Donna’s Forest” this spring and summer. It’s still in its infancy, but it’s an excellent place for us all to hug a tree and channel the spirit of The Lorax. Carroll County has lots of trees, so find one you love and hug it.

If you find your way to Bear Branch Nature Center, look for the large stone with the following words on it at the edge of the trees:

A Legacy of Trees Editors NoteDonna Lappas Griffith, 1958-2008

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.  — Dr. Seuss’ ‘The Lorax’

Donna Lappas Griffith loved connecting kids to nature at Hashawha, her place of peace and joy. These trees are a memorial to all she gave us and all that nature gave to her.”

Kym Byrnes

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