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OP-ED: Talking about parenting: Sowing the ‘Lion Larry David Memorial Tree Program’

Chris Kovatch

Happy New Year! I hope 2021 has started off on the right foot for you and your families. This article will be printed on January 9, which also happens to be the day of a recently created Lions Club project.
In the latter part of 2019, one of our long-time members brought an idea to our board.  Ralph Thon shared with our club his idea about developing a large-scale tree planting program in Orange County. John Backer, a fellow Lions Club member, was also instrumental in bringing this project to fruition.
As we are all well aware, our landscape has changed dramatically over the last 15 years with the hurricanes that have hit our county. What used to be a heavily wooded area has now been thinned out dramatically.
The impact of this decimation is significant. We all know the role trees play in oxygen production. They also in cooling our houses and help control erosion. They provide a habitat for numerous animals and other organisms. They can also provide a source of food for us and that is one the focuses of our program.
In 2020, our club along with the Orange County Master Gardeners and other volunteers planted several hundred pecan and satsuma trees that were carefully selected for our local environment. Some of the satsumas already produced fruit this past season, however, over the next 10-15 years all of them should be active in producing fruit and nuts. These trees have been planted in parks, church grounds, and school grounds. The goal being that anyone can access the food produced in coming years. Not only will these trees help feed people, but we should hopefully see them developing our tree population and improving the beauty of our town.
Today, we are planting a combination of pecan and mayhaw trees around our county. It’s actually 200 to be exact. That’s 200 trees planted by five teams in one day. In addition to our club and the Master Gardeners, project is made possible through a partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation and International Paper. We would not be able to execute a project of this scale without their support. Later this spring, we will be planting additional satsuma trees.
Lion Ralph requested of our board that we provide this program with an official name honoring one of our longtime Lions that we have lost recently. Going forward this program will be known as the ‘Lion Larry David Memorial Tree Program’.
I am personally so thankful for the focus and planning by Ralph on this project. I am thankful for all those that have supported it since its inception. The impact this will have on our community is invaluable. Making a positive change in our community takes action and commitment. I am so humbled and appreciative of all those that step up and make things like this happen.
I will leave you with two simple words that speak the purpose and goal of every Lions Club around the world. We Serve.

I hope you make a decision to serve in some form or fashion in 2021. Be a part of making things better for those around you. Even the simplest action can have a dramatic impact.

Chris Kovatch is a resident of Orange County. You can reach him at news@orangeleader.com