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Growing a Greener Future

MAY 17, 2023 — Living Environment students at Midlakes High School have been learning how to combat a deadly blight found decades ago in chestnut trees with the help of two of their teachers.

»Photo Gallery: Growing Hybrid Trees

Teachers Greg Mahns and Ethan Sleeman have been working with students to plant and grow a hybrid version of chestnut and English oak trees resistant to disease and fungus. Their work began in February and continued when students repotted the trees into makeshift planters they made with shavings and sawdust to help protect the young trees from Blue Jays and other critters.

Students used a technique to plant trees developed by scientists to create a tree that will hopefully live hundreds of years. Mr. Mahns and Mr. Sleeman hope to breed these trees with blight-resistant varieties developed by State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry once the plants have been released to the public.

The trees will continue to grow in the Midlakes Middle/High School courtyard until the students, most of them sophomores, take them home later in the school year.