Penn Oak is gone but is still the ‘giving tree’
KENNETT >> The 447-year-old Penn Oak tree at the Myrick Center fell and died in July, but it is not forgotten and is still giving.
On Oct. 20, the Brandywine-Red Clay Alliance annual dinner was held at the Mendenhall Inn and at that time several awards mounted on rings of wood from the departed and beloved friend along Route 842 were given.
Retiring board member and philanthropist Eva Verplanck as well as equestrian advocate and board member Carl “Bunny” Meister received brass tributes to their many years of outstanding service attached to 12-inch rings cut from the branches of the late tree.
Executive Director Jim Jordan said Meister not only brought the annual Brandywine Hills Point to Point fund-raiser to the organization but, “He was the epitome of what we look for in a board member. Conservation was the top priority in his life.”
Jordan said Verplanck opened the door to nonprofit fund-raising with her expertise and was a valuable mentor to new members.
“They were the two oldest members (of the board) and they carried the torch of the merger (between the Red Clay and Brandywine Valley Associations),” he said.
Also present as a memory of the tree was a hand-carved salad plate from the Penn Oak wood made by craftsman Ron Blevins.
The dinner was a celebration of the work done by staff and volunteers as well as the official comingtogether of the two associations last year.
George Claypoole, a teacher at Hillendale Elementary School was given the Outstanding Teacher Award. Claypoole assisted in remediation of a stormwater containment project, and he also designed and built the school’s nature trail. He was joined by his principal, Steve Dissinger. In addition to the honor, he was presented with a check of $500 from the Southeastern Chester County Refuse Authority, which is heavily involved in conservation efforts in London Grove.
Jen Roth, a teacher at the BRC summer camps, received the outstanding educator among the staff at Myrick. Education Coordinator Julia Steiner said she was especially enthusiastic and outstanding when it came to teaching the kids about water.
Blevins and John Bare were presented with the Volunteer Award, Blevins for his willingness to held on the property and Bare for his help with the annual cleanups.
Red Streams Blue Director Bob Struble, whose father founded the Red Clay Valley Association, gave a report on efforts to clean up the streams in the watershed. He said that from the beginning of efforts to deal with conservation and clean water in 1948, the quality showed gradual improvements until the 1990s, when heavy development resulted in increased runoff going into the streams. He said his main job now is dealing with sediment and deterioration of stream banks.
They have taken actions to reroute and slow down the flow with J-hooks, rock ridges, mud sills and tree roots. They have also attacked the banks with backhoes to make gradual slopes on which they plant fast-growing bushes and trees. Also in the Red Streams Blue projects are bridges built for cows to cross rather than hanging out in the water during hot weather.
President John Nolan reported on a successful year with many volunteers and a budget that came out in the black.
Hillendale Elementary School teacher George Claypoole, second from right, holds the check for $500 in honor of his being named the outstanding conservation teacher. From left are BRC Education Coordinator Julia Steiner, Hillendale Principal Steve Dissinger, Claypoole and Southeastern Chester County Refuse Authority Director Scott Mengle.
Eva Verplanck, right, displays her award for outstanding service which is mounted on the remains of the fallen Penn Oak to Bunny Meister, who also received the outstanding service award at the dinner on Thursday.
This salad bowl was carved by Ron Blevins out of the remains of the Penn Oak tree that fell at the Myrick Center in July.