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Students at St. Stephen's Episcopal School in Bradenton, Fla., now enjoy a fully landscaped campus environment, thanks primarily to work and materials donated by local firm Turner Tree and Landscape. Owner Darrell Turner, whose daughter currently attends St. Stephens, said he wanted to get involved to give something back to the community, and the local kids. The school serves pre-kindergarten thru 12th grade, with a current population of 738 students. "I went there to help plant some shrubs and annuals with the kids previously," Turner recalls. "They wanted to expand the campus, and were asking for pledges and donations. The headmaster wanted the school to be more like a campus than a typical school. We were currently doing the shopping center across the street, and I thought we could make both projects match and give the school a nice thick, dense canopy look. The school's newly acquired land used to be a shopping center parking lot. Turner planted over 1200 trees, shrubs, and groundcovers. "We did the parking lot first, then the building," said Turner. "Basically, we transformed a nearby Dollar General Store parking lot into a school campus. We did not do the irrigation -- we just did trees, shrubs, groundcover, mulch and sod." The job took about 8 weeks to complete, running about six to eight men on a crew. "We added a bunch of royal palms and live oaks," said Turner. "Now there is a park-like area with benches for students, and in front of the building is a semi-circle that we lined with 12 royal palms. The campus ended up being about three acres. The total value of the project ended up at around $96,000." "I feel like we're connected and giving something back to the Manatee County community," Turner said. "This area has been very good to me and my family, and this was a way to give something back to the neighborhood that they will remember." Since the completion of St. Stephen's campus, many students' families have volunteered to do additional planting and maintenance. "We got a couple of dedication trees for seniors who were killed in an accident," said Turner. "The parents have been real involved as far as coming in on clean-up day and Earth Day as well. We went out there and donated those trees and worked with the class in planting those memorial live oaks, after the initial project was finished. "

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October 17, 2019, 6:26 am PDT

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