Mount Vernon High School teacher Matt Thompson is this year’s recipient of the Fairfax County Tree Commission’s Friend of Trees Award.
Thompson was recognized by the tree commission for coordinating a tree-planting project on Earth Day 2011. Thompson joined forces with students and volunteers to plant 465 native trees on the grounds of MVHS on April 20, 2011.
“It’s nice they think highly of me, and that everyone who was part of the nominating process considered me for the award,” said Thompson of the honor.
Thompson said the project accomplished three needs: ecological, academic, and athletic.
“To meet academic needs, my ecology class learned about some of the successions in forest, and planted a couple different areas with stages of succession,” Thompson explained. “When we planted for athletic needs, we tried to plant trees in the baseball field and softball field to create a dark green batters’ line. And ecologically, we try to just reduce some of the carbon footprint from the school and sequester some carbon from transportation and students.”
Thompson worked with nonprofit Fairfax ReLeaf, which provided the trees. He also joined forces with the Ecology Club to raise $3,000 towards the project, which he estimated will cost between $10,000 and $12,000 to complete.
“[Fairfax ReLeaf] had a local guy who was in the Department of Forestry, and helped identify which tree species are ideal for locations we chose,” said Thompson. “They assisted in logistical ways.”
Thompson has taught chemistry at Mount Vernon High School for six years and also introduced the IB Environmental Systems Program four years ago. He has been asked to organize similar projects at other local schools, including Riverside Elementary.
Thompson will be honored at a ceremony at the Fairfax County Government Center on April 28.