The Federated Garden Club of Maryland (FGCMD) hosted the annual Alice Rush McKeon Fund Tree Planting event on Saturday, September 30, 2023, at Gilmore C. Trout Memorial Park in Walkersville. This year, in her memory, District V of FGCMD was awarded funds to plant trees and chose several sites in Frederick County. Gilmore C. Trout Memorial Park in Walkersville, FCPS Earth Space and Science Lab Arboretum in downtown Frederick, and a park in Thurmont were the chosen locations.
Following a demonstration of the correct way to plant a tree, 24 fifteen-gallon bucket trees were planted by garden club members, Boy Scout Troop 1011, and Walkersville and Frederick County community volunteers. Also participating were representatives from Frederick County Forest Conservancy Board and the Maryland Forestry Service.
The Maryland Forestry Service included this project as part of their Five Million Tree Initiative to plant 5 million trees in Maryland by 2031. To celebrate the morning’s accomplishment, a reception was held at nearby Heritage Farm Park in Walkersville.
Alice Rush McKeon was a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who died in February 1979, at the age of 95. McKeon had led a remarkable life. She served twice as president of the Federated Garden Club of Maryland (FGCMD). She was a pioneer in the conservation and environment movement. She instrumented several programs that generated national attention. McKeon published The Litterbug Family in 1931, containing poems and illustrations about the problem of roadside litter. She is credited with coining the term “litterbug.”
On WBAL during WWII, McKeon started a radio program, “Garden Clubs of the Air,” with the idea of growing a Victory Garden in your backyard. In 1935, she wrote poetry titled “Sonnets for the Scenic Ease.” From the proceeds of her poetry, her son established the Alice Rush McKeon Tree Planting Fund. The FGCMD manages these funds to plant trees throughout Maryland. This is an event that passes sequentially to each of the five districts of FGCMD. Mason Carter, Frederick County Council; Diana Bonner, Past FGCMD President; Patty Kettlestrings, District V Civic Improvement Chair; Anna O’Kelly, Past FGCMD President; Susie Middleton, FGCMD President; Shelley Johnson, Director District V FGCMD, Mary Ann Brodie-Ennis, Walkersville Commissioner, Chad Weddle, Walkersville Burgess; Mary Ann Simmons, Taskers Chance Garden Club; Sonia Demiray, Chair, Frederick County Forestry Conservancy Board; and Anna Twigg, Tree Planting Specialist, MD Forest Service, MD Department of Natural Resources