The Arbor Day Foundation works with numerous partners to bring our programs to life, from our recognition programs like Tree City USA and Tree Campus USA, to our carbon offsets to our shade-grown coffee. In addition to these programs we grow our very own nursery trees at the Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City. These trees aren’t only bought by our members, but are also utilized by our partners.
There are few things that I love to talk about more than our partnerships, and this one tops the list. I’m excited to tell you about our long-term partnership with Dominion and our involvement in Project Plant it! This year we’re celebrating the 10th year anniversary!
Dominion developed Project Plant It! as a third and fourth grade level environmental school curriculum to help children understand the benefits of trees in their communities. Kids (teachers and parents too) learn how trees control erosion, filter storm water runoff, reduce energy use, and select the right tree in the right place. These great lessons are taught through games, videos and classroom activities, and families are encouraged to join in. This year, the program is open to all elementary grade levels as well as children involved in scouts and other civic organizations.
We give a seedling to each student who participates in Project Plant It! across Dominion’s 10-state service area. The number of kids involved has grown steadily each year— 50,000 kids will take an Arbor Day tree home this spring. For the past few years, those trees have been Eastern redbuds, the state tree of Virginia and Dominion’s home state. They’re grown at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, Nebraska—home of Arbor Day! We ship the trees directly to each school, teacher, or scout leader to distribute in his or her classroom, along with tree facts and planting instructions. Most schools have Arbor Day celebrations as part of the Project Plant It! curriculum, and some have tree planting events on their campuses.
When I think of the hundreds of thousands of children who have participated in Project Plant It!, and the families and friends who’ve been eagerly pulled by the hand listening to the exclamation “Look! It’s my tree!” it pleases my heart knowing that we’ve inspired an entire generation of tree planters. This year, we’ll ship the 350,000th Project Plant It! tree. According to the Virginia Department of Forestry, this equates to more than 800 acres of new forest.
Collaborations like this aren’t possible without the armies of dedicated tree lovers involved. The crew at the Arbor Day Farm greenhouse who lovingly grow, package and ship these young Eastern redbuds; Dominion arborists and linemen who demonstrate tree planting techniques and help the kids get their hands dirty; and the countless teachers, school staff, and parent volunteers at the nearly 1,000 schools and organizations who work hard to inspire their students.
These are the real reasons we celebrate, the reason that Project Plant It! is such a success: we’re all in this together, and together is the only way we can improve our world. Visit our website to learn how you can be part of our mission in planting trees.