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4-H Youth Development Program: Million Trees Project

Trees for the 3rd Grade

Service-Learning Project Summary

Trees for the 3rd Grade is a national service-learning project to teach The National Wildlife Federation age-appropriate Trees for the 21st Century curriculum to approximately 3.1 million U.S. third graders annually. This fun program takes an interdisciplinary approach to science and environmental education while effectively teaching kids about conservation. Learning-by-doing is a fantastic way for kids to internalize lessons and a major element of the project happens when each child is given a free sapling to plant, uniting all U.S. 3rd graders with the knowledge that they are doing their part to address global climate change. By working together with third graders across the nation on an Earth Day project, these kids are doing something big and positive to address the climate crisis.

The Trees for the 3rd Grade program uses a model developed by Newaygo County, Michigan 4-H, where high school-aged 4-H members have taught elementary school children about the value of trees for more than fifteen years. Every year approximately 1,000 students in Newaygo County learn about trees on Earth Day/Arbor Day/Global Youth Service Day, and then plant a donated tree in their town or rural area. The longevity of the Newaygo project is testimony to its strength as a teaching tool.

The primary goal of the project is to instill a life-long environmental ethic and sense of environmental stewardship in 3rd graders. Grounded with an understanding of the importance to their lives of trees, natural resources, and the need to manage resources wisely, these students will be better equipped to make smart choices throughout their lives. For example, by understanding the energy and environmental costs of everyday products in their lives, food, packaging, etc., this generation will freely adopt recycling, reuse, and reduce as a lifestyle choice. In addition, these children can bring these and other sustainable concepts into their homes and school, and influence adult behaviors.

The project has a number of secondary goals. The most important goal is sustainability, such that teachers, school administrators, the county 4-H Agent, 4-H or other interested high school students, and the Conservation Districts continue to support and implement the project every year. In this way, all youth in the county will cycle through the program, and learn and hopefully adopt environmental stewardship as a normal part of life. This project will give thousands of senior 4-H youth/high school students valuable leadership experience, public speaking opportunities, and the chance to experience teaching in an elementary school class. Given a positive experience, some of the high school students may consider teaching as a profession. Trees planted will be registered on the Join Us page, and count toward the goal of the 4-H Million Trees Project, a project intended to inspire millions of youth to plant trees to address issues of global deforestation and global climate change.

This is a big and valuable project, so it is time to get started. Every day is a good day to plant a tree, so please contact us.