Students from Stone Elementary School showed their Volunteer spirit as they gave a surface mine site in Cumberland County a facelift for Arbor Day on Friday.

Planting trees at a reclamation site really gives the land a kick start in returning to its original state as it was before the mining began.

“If we had just left this land alone, it would take probably 50 years to somewhat mirror the natural forest that we see behind us,” said Chris Miller, a reclamation specialist with the Office of Surface Mining.

These old mining sites also provide an ideal environment for re-growth of the American Chestnut tree, a species that nearly became extinct after blight wiped out entire forests.

But there’s more to this story than just restoring the coal mines and planting Chestnut trees, it’s about getting the kids of Crossville involved and teaching them about preserving the environment.

“We asked the kids, number one, if they had ever seen a coal mine," said Barry Thacker of the Coal Creek Watershed.

"Nobody raised their hands. And when we asked them how many had ever planted a tree, very few of them had planted a tree," he said.

Thacker has seen immense success in his nine years of Arbor Day tree plantings.

To Thacker and everyone involved, the most important part of the process is bringing a passion for the environment to our youngest generation.

“It’s not for me and it’s not for them, it’s for their kids," Miller said.