The following is a presentation I gave to the fourth grade students of Clarks Summit Elementary, who celebrated Arbor Day with Clarks Summit and Clarks Green borough officials recently.
What is work? Someone said that work is simply making an improvement. When you work at school, you improve your knowledge, or you improve your teachers’ understanding of your level of knowledge. When you work at sports, music, hobbies or drama, you improve your abilities in that discipline. When you go to work, you improve something in the economy. A doctor improves patient health, a teacher improves student knowledge and ability. A builder improves a home. An accountant improves a ledger.
And, when you go to work, you get paid. You get paid because you helped others make an improvement in something for which they are responsible. Without you, or someone else like you, the improvement could not or would not have been made. The people who hired you got the benefit of the improvement you made, and you get the benefit of the paycheck they give you in exchange for that improvement, that work you did.
Now, imagine if workers did not get paid. Do you think any work would get done? Do you think any improvements would be made? Sure, there are volunteers, but volunteers cannot work for free if their basic needs are not met.
In other words, if the volunteers are busy working for paychecks so that they can eat, have shelter and travel here and there, they would not be able to work for free.
Imagine also, just for a minute if the work to be done was very difficult. If I hired you to help me plant these trees on a pleasant, sunny day it is one thing. But imagine if I hired you to help me plant in pouring down freezing rain, with no breaks, with frozen ground and spoons instead of shovels. Would you want to do that for the same pay? Better yet, do you think we could find volunteers to do that work for free?
Yet, in this marvelous world we live in, there are creatures that make improvements in our lives whether we pay them or not — even whether we notice or not. One example is honeybees. Honeybees work themselves to death around the clock, not only making extra honey for us to eat, but they also work our farms, supplying one out of every three bites of food we eat.
Trees also work for us rain or shine, changing polluted air, water and sunlight into clean air, wood, fruit, shade, syrup, and many other things. They even plant and prune themselves when we leave them alone.
How can we pay these creatures for their work? It seems to me that there are two ways. First, we can recognize the important improvements they make in our world. Second, we can decide to care for them as best as we can. This includes planting these trees properly. Let’s go!
Reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joshua Arp is an ISA-certified municipal specialist, Clarks Summit’s municipal arborist and an operator of an organic lawn and landscape maintenance business.