Every year the city of Brooksville holds a lovely Arbor Day celebration. This year was no exception with the planting of two oak trees near the Train Depot Museum and Countryman One Room Schoolhouse on April 27, 2018. Throughout the years, the city has planted trees along the walkway behind the Train Depot and schoolhouse as well as in Tom Varn Park.
Prior to planting the trees, a ceremony was held at the Countryman One Room Schoolhouse which included the presentation of an Arbor Day Proclamation by the Brooksville City Council, an educational talk by Nicole Howard, Hernando County Forester with the Florida Forest Service and the announcement of the 10th annual poster contest winner.
Scott Renz, Chairman of the Beautification Board said that choosing the winning poster is always a tough decision. The posters were created by the students of Hernando High School’s Project Looking Ahead, a life and work skills program for young adults ages 18 - 22 with disabilities.
Taking first place in the poster contest was Stephanie Knotts, followed by Joseph Garcia in second and Christopher Boldizar in third.
Gretchen Countryman, founder of the Countryman One Room Schoolhouse, explained that Hernando High’s Project Looking Ahead will always hold a special place in her heart, because they were the first class ever to come to the schoolhouse.
Jeanne Ledbetter, Project Looking Ahead’s Job Coach, has been with the program since its inception about 9 years ago. She explained that the students volunteer at 5 different work sites around the county 3 times a week to gain experience. The other 2 days a week are spent in the classroom, learning how to write resumes, cover letters, conduct oneself during a job interview, etc. They also teach about daily living essentials like nutrition and shopping. Ledbetter remarked that the program has been very successful and many of the companies they volunteer for are likely to hire their students because they already have the experience.
Contributors to and supporters of the Arbor Day celebration include the Florida Forest Service, Publix Supermarkets, Inc., Stewart’s Tree Service, Wal-Mart Super Center, the City of Brooksville’s Beautification Board, Brooksville City Council and city staff.