Hockinson high School students to plant trees along Interstate 5


The school’s environmental club is hoping to inspire others by creating green corridor

Hockinson High School students and the Washington State Department of Transportation are teaming up to help create a “green corridor.”

A group of students from the school’s Environmental Club will be planting trees Friday afternoon along I-5 in Hazel Dell, with the assistance of WSDOT and school staff. The goal is to improve the air quality of homes near the freeway.

Kaisho Barnhill, a senior and one of the founders of the club, said that the group was limited to what it could do earlier in the pandemic. 

“Now that county (COVID) rates are down, we are able to do more and are happy to get back to doing good for earth, especially so close to Earth Day,” Barnhill said.

Sammar Thandi (left), president, and Kaisho Barnill, vice president, are the founders of the Hockinson High School Environmental Club. Photo courtesy Hockinson School District
Sammar Thandi (left), president, and Kaisho Barnill, vice president, are the founders of the Hockinson High School Environmental Club. Photo courtesy Hockinson School District

Barnhill and the club collaborated with Dan Corlett of WSDOT to address the club’s mission as well as WSDOT’s vision for native species/reforesting. Corlett said Barnhill’s proposal fits WSDOT’s environmental goals.

“The planting of native conifers and other native trees and shrubs in disturbed or bare areas beyond the managed safety zone helps WSDOT meet its stewardship goals,” Corlett said. “Volunteer efforts such as this help to improve targeted areas outside of our normal project development and construction process.”

The tree planting is made possible through a donation of 50 seedlings from Weyerhaeuser, courtesy of Patrick Carter, the president of the Hockinson School District Board. Carter said the district plans on supporting more events led by the Environmental Club in the future.

“This planting is a legacy project in two ways: The trees will grow, and the hope is that the effort will also grow by inspiring other area schools to create green spaces along our freeways,” Carter said. “Their goal is to improve air quality and create a powerful visual that Washington is ‘The Evergreen State.’” 

The planting event also inspired the district’s superintendent.

“I am very proud of this group of students,” Steve Marshall said. “They have taken the initiative and are making a difference. I like seeing students have a leadership opportunity, but I love when they create the opportunity themselves and get involved on a scale larger than school.”

The Hockinson students will be planting the trees after school on Friday.

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