Eberwhite’s Woodchip Day: Building community, one pile at a time

By Tara Cavanaugh 

As ten-year-old Monty Granderson lugged a sled full of woodchips through the Eberwhite Woods, he looked as happy as could be.

“This is actually kind of fun,” he said. “It’s called Woodchip Day.”

Why is it fun?

“Because, like, all the kids get together and dump the woodchips.”

Woodchip Day is an annual tradition that involves the local neighborhoods and Eberwhite Elementary School. Classes take turns hauling woodchips and refreshing a portion of the paths in the Eberwhite Woods. It’s a lesson in stewardship and community for the students who use the woods as a living classroom year-round.

“They’re so thrilled to be out here today,” said Pam Baker, an Eberwhite PTO member who organized this year’s event. “It’s a tradition the kids look forward to. They know they’re taking care of the property they enjoy during the school year.”

This year’s Woodchip Day was threatened by heavy rain showers in the morning. “We had to postpone a couple of classes because of the weather, and they were so upset,” Baker said. Instead, parent volunteers lugged and dumped woodchips in the rain.

The children were excited when the rain cleared up in the afternoon. Parents loaded up sleds with woodchips and kids pulled them into the woods to the designated paths. Parents dumped the sleds, and arranged the chips neatly on the paths, and the kids pulled the empty sleds back to be loaded up again.

The system worked smoothly, except for the occasional traffic jam.

No one knows exactly how long Woodchip Day has taken place in the Eberwhite Woods. Baker has participated for eight years, and she knows it began long before she did.

By now, everyone knows their roles. The school district and the Eberwhite PTO take turns paying for the woodchips. Sixty-four parents signed up to volunteer. Families lend their winter sleds for the day.

“The community around the neighborhood helps steward the woods as well,” Baker said. “If we don’t finish the chips, we’ll have a community group go out and finish them.”

Shari Miller, mother to two Eberwhite students, volunteered at her sixth Woodchip Day. “The kids have fun with it. But they also get to help keep the woods up and I think that’s important,” she said. “They come out here several times a year for field trips, and in the spring they learn about the wildflowers.

“It’s a community thing. Eberwhite’s really big on that.”

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