This photo captures that memorable day. It is a snapshot of young environmentalists in action and a testament to the power of community and conservation working hand in hand to make a difference in the world.

In the heart of northern Michigan, a group of spirited students from the Glen Lake Schools, along with teacher Will Havill, embarked on a transformative journey with the Grand Traverse Conservation District and the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive. Together, they gathered along the serene stretches of the Boardman River, where the whispers of the past meet the promises of the future.

On this crisp spring morning, the air was filled with excitement as the students, clad in their most colorful rain gear, prepared to make their mark on the environment. They were about to plant sapling clones of champion trees—black Willows and Dogwoods—that were not just any trees. These saplings were genetically identical to some of the oldest and most functional trees known to humanity, preserved and propagated by Archangel Ancient Tree Archive to ensure their survival.

With shovels ready and saplings in hand, each student took turns digging into the rich, moist soil along the riverbank. They learned about the significance of their task; these trees, once mature, would not only beautify and stabilize the riverbank but also provide vital habitat for local wildlife and help in the battle against climate change by sequestering carbon.

Instructors from Archangel and the Conservation District guided them through the planting process, explaining how these trees connect them to a larger global effort to preserve ancient, irreplaceable genetics. Every sapling planted was a step towards ecological restoration, a lesson in environmental stewardship, and a hope for future resilience.

As they worked, the students’ faces lit up with the joy of participation, and they were aware they were part of something much larger than themselves. They talked and laughed, their hands dirtied from soil, and their spirits uplifted by the act of giving new life to ancient genes.

By the end of the day, the field beside the Boardman River was transformed, dotted with new saplings standing proudly like sentinels of hope. The students left with a sense of accomplishment and a new perspective on how even the smallest hands can help shape the future of our planet.

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