Christian School Named National Arboretum

Christian School Named National Arboretum
Mac Wiener and John Harkema plant a hornbeam and a tulip tree at Timothy Christian School, April 2019.
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This week Timothy Christian School in Elmhurst, Ill., celebrated accreditation as a national arboretum—a garden of trees. Mac Wiener, the school’s Bible teacher and chapel coordinator, who has a love for God’s creation as found in trees, put the application together beginning last summer.

“I learned through some research that our school had the potential to be a Level 1 arboretum,” Wiener said. Following directions on the ArbNet website, he digitally mapped every tree on campus, marking location, uploading a photo, and identifying each tree with its common and Latin name. “I started last July with the mapping, creating an arboretum plan and filling out the application. We were accepted as an arboretum at the end of March,” he said.

Most of the school’s more than 60 varieties of trees have been planted by longtime volunteer and retired teacher John Harkema, who attends Western Springs (Ill.) CRC. “For 56 years he has planted trees on the campus,” prioritizing variety, Wiener said. “He really is one of a kind when it comes to landscaping and trees.”

Wiener, who attends Lombard (Ill.) CRC, has his own reputation at the school as “tree guy.” “I sprinkle tree facts throughout Bible classes and chapels,” he said, “but not too much!”

To retain their Level 1 status, the school must continue to maintain and record their trees, have educational programs—which Wiener says happens naturally because they are a school—and keep planting trees. Level 2 status would involve having a full-time arborist on staff, so that is not a goal.

Having gone through the process once, Wiener said he’s willing to help other schools to apply. “ArbNet has accredited arboretums all over the world,” Wiener said.

About the Author

Alissa Vernon is the news editor for The Banner.