DANVILLE, MONTOUR COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A teacher in Montour County has a goal of climbing the tallest tree in all 67 Pennsylvania counties.
“I was out in the woods a few weeks ago and thinking about how fun it would be to climb to the highest spot in Montour County, and then I thought, why not do Columbia County, and Union County and I wondered how hard it would be to do them all?” recalled Van Wagner.
Wagner is a 46-year-old agriculture teacher at Danville Area and a certified forester, now with a mission to climb the tallest tree at the highest point in all 67 Pennsylvania counties — a feat never achieved before. He is hoping to raise awareness about forestry and its importance in the Keystone state.
“Simply the beauty, you can’t put a price tag on our Pennsylvania forest. The spiritual value that we get from our forest and so I just hope more Pennsylvanians can self educate, learn your trees,” Wagner said.
So far, Wagner has climbed in seven counties. The highest in Luzerne County at more than 2,800 feet. Early Wednesday, he showed some of his students the ropes of climbing and how to apply classroom education into your day-to-day life.
“We get to learn about trees and the carbon cycle and trees talk underground with each other, which is really cool to find that out,” said Brooke Woll, a student at Danville Area High School.
“I think it’s really important for him to raise awareness about trees because Pennsylvanians see it and they see trees and you know the mountains, but they don’t understand what it means to the environment,” said sophomore Alex Cichoskie of Danville Area High School.
And with all the time to check off the next 60 counties, Wagner says he hopes to motivate others who hear his story.
“You never stop pushing your boundaries, you never stop setting goals for yourself in life.”