Arbor Day 2018
Arbor Day is a day to learn about, celebrate, and plant trees. To us, this was the perfect opportunity to work with local experts and to bring a quality experience to a group of children. With that in mind, we set out planning and fundraising our very first educational program. The arborists we worked with, management and counselors of Camp George Forbes, donors, and our small network of organizers and volunteers met those goals. While the kids learned quite a bit about trees and the natural world, we learned quite a bit about planning these events. Read on to learn more!
We started our Arbor Day celebration around 3:30 in the afternoon (to try and accommodate school hours for potential participants) in the main hall of the camp. After a quick introduction and making sure each child received a Junior Arborist Kit, we talked about the different types of trees (evergreen, deciduous, and deciduous evergreen), how they grow and reproduce, and why trees are so important to us and the natural world. Next, we responsibly collected some leaves and pinecones to be used in a few hands-on activities before returning to the main hall. There, we learned about how trees “breathe”, how and why pinecones open and close, and we gave our artsy sides some love with leaf rubbings! It was during these activities that the arborists arrived!
After we wrapped up the activities, Lauren Lanphear of Forest City Tree Protection and one of his now-retired associates introduced themselves and explained what exactly it is they do before we all joined them on a light walk through the woods. During this walk we learned how to identify some common and uncommon species of local trees, about the importance of old growth forests, about diseases and pests that effect trees and how to identify them, how to resonate a tree to identify potential areas of concern, and about the history of some of the local trees and how they played into the settlement and agriculture of Northeastern Ohio. After all of that fun and learning, most of us had worked up an appetite, which meant it was time for lunch!
While enjoying the fresh Ohio fruit and hot dogs that were provided for lunch, the children and their parents had a chance to ask the arborists more about what they do and the kind of education that it takes to do it. It was during this Q&A period that we got to learn a lot more about their personal experience and the pros and cons of becoming an arborist. After lunch was over, we learned about how to count tree rings and other methods of determining a tree’s age, as the arborists related some of that information back to things they had mentioned earlier in the day. After lunch the arborists had to take their leave and we went on to the final activity.
The last thing we had to do was to actually plant some trees! Together, we planted three red maple seedlings near the north stairs of the mess hall, using the advice on how to properly plant a tree that the arborists left with us, in memory of those close to the camp staff that have passed. With that, we wrapped up the celebration, made our goodbyes, and sent each child home with a maple seedling to plant somewhere special to them.
Low turnout lead to an extended program
While we had originally planned this program to accommodate 30-50 children, we ended up having a much lower turnout than expected. While there were a few reasons for the low turnout, we actively worked to identify them and adjust to meet the needs of potential participants. Doing so did help interest more participants, but nowhere near what we were expecting.
After seeing the initial program and the level of excitement and engagement the children enjoyed, the management at the camp suggested we continue on with the program as a weekly activity during the summer camp season. This way, we were able to reach another five to six hundred children while also utilizing the materials we had acquired for the Arbor Day program. Unfortunately, the arborists weren’t able to join us through the summer program. We did, however, use their knowledge and guidance to help provide a unique and exciting educational program.
We also had less time per session during the summer program than we did for the Arbor Day event, so we had to trim it back a bit. We opened with an introduction before a short lecture on what trees are, why they’re so important, and some ways we can help trees. We also discussed some of the dangers and risks trees face, how to identify pests and diseases, and counting rings. After the lecture, we opened the floor for questions. To our surprise, both the children AND the counselors had a lot of questions about the lives and abilities of trees. Once we satisfied everyone’s curiosity, we took a short nature walk on the trails. There, we talked about the history of the trees in the area and the importance of old growth forests. Children also got to resonate trees with a rubber mallet (a technique learned from the arborists), see some of the pests we had discussed up close, and experience some of the wildlife that depends on these forests and trees for survival. At the end of each session, we encouraged the children to try counting the rings on a section of Birch wood, with a Junior Arborist Kit as the reward for the closest count from each group.
It should be noted that since lunches are already provided by the camp throughout the summer, we didn’t provide the lunch portion of the program, either. We did, however, provide fresh Ohio-grown apples and pears as an option for each week’s children.
Each Junior Arborist Kit included the following items:
-Tree ID Field Cards
A set of easy-to-carry cards with information, pictures, and ways to help identify ten common species of trees native to Northeast Ohio.
-Mini Composition Notebook
Everyone should keep a notebook. Junior arborists can use their notebook to keep notes on trees they may come across, do leaf rubbings, draw their observations, and much more!
-A 4-pack of crayons
These are great for doing leaf rubbings and drawing observations in a notebook!
For keeping notes, drawing, and all kinds of other stuff!
-A magnifying glass
To help see things up close. Magnifying glasses help junior arborists view bark up close and observe some of the small creatures living in and around trees.
-A soft measuring tape
Measurements help us obtain data. Some things can be inferred from the length or girth of a branch, the size of a leaf, and the general age of a tree can be determined with Diameter-at-Breast measurements.
To be used to practice counting tree rings.
Every scientist, researcher, and field person needs a pair of safety glasses. Arborists need them to protect their eyes from sawdust and wood chunks while cutting, trimming, sampling, resonating a tree, or digging.
-While the turnout for the main event may have been low, every single child that was there took a keen interest in the program, all happily participated in each activity, and were full of all kinds of great questions for the arborists! A strong majority of each group during the summer program took great interest in what we had to teach them. A few even expressed an interest in going into biology, life sciences, or becoming an arborist in the future!
-In total, we were able to distribute a total of 35 Junior Arborist kits, which we hope will aid the recipients in their future explorations of their local surroundings and help spark creativity and a healthy curiosity of the natural world.
-A whopping 25 pounds (total) of fresh, Ohio grown fruit was provided as an option for lunches for the main event as well as throughout the summer. Many of the summer kids expressed thanks for the apples and pears, as their access to fresh produce tends to be limited at home. With some encouragement and resources on how to grow a tree from seed, some of the children took their pear and apple seeds home to try growing their own fresh fruits!
-10 trees were planted on Arbor Day, three of which were given specifically designated safe space at Camp George Forbes. Another 40 trees were distributed to the children both at the main event and throughout the summer program to be planted somewhere special or close to home. These 50 trees can potentially offset close to a full ton of carbon per year, as well as provide habitat for numerous local species of fauna. Even better is the potential for these trees to incite interest, become a focal point of learning, and have memories built around them as the children nurture and grow them.
Thank you to our donors and supporters!
We would like to start by thanking Mr. Lanphear and his team for taking time to assist in this event and for providing guidance, as well as a wealth of information and resources.
We would like to extend a special thank you those whose monetary gifts made this possible, especially after hearing of the financial hardships faced by some of these kids and seeing the spark of inspiration to take action at home and in their community to make things better.
We would also like to extend a special thank you to the great many people that helped us spread the word about this project through word of mouth, social media, and by various other means. Without you, this wouldn’t have been possible.
We would also like to extend another special thank you to the management, staff, and counselors at Camp George Forbes. They not only hosted this event but offered to help us extend it through the summer, assisted us in activities, and were and absolute pleasure to work with.
Looking to the future
This year, rather than running a program for Arbor Day, we are working out details for an Earth Week celebration. While we will likely be planting some trees, we may be doing a “stations” style program, with each station dedicated to the theme of each day for earth week. This time, we are trying to plan for a weekend so as to be able to accommodate more participants schedules. Keep an eye out on our website, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for details and dates to come!