By Daniel J. Chacon
Denver, CO (April 24, 2008)- Denver is planting the seeds of an environmentally conscious generation of children. As part of Mayor John Hickenlooper’s initiative to plant a million trees in the metro area by 2025, the city went into a handful of public schools in the fall to teach kids about the importance of trees in an urban setting. The message took root.
“They save energy and give us fuel, and they’re homes for animals so they could live and not be extinct,” said 10-year-old Brandon Rodriguez, a fourth-grader at Richard T. Castro Elementary School in west Denver. Brandon is among the participants in the Mile High Million Grade School Tree Education and Planting Program who received seedlings Thursday to take home and plant.
The kids who took home trees had to have their parents or guardians sign “adoption” forms to make sure they understood the responsibility of caring for a tree, said Denver Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Jill McGranahan. “We call it the puppy scenario,” she said. “You don’t just say, ‘Hey, here’s a puppy,’ and send it home with a kid. You need to know that they’re going to want it, they’ll take care of it, and they’ll do what it needs to thrive and to grow.”
U.S. Forest Service chief Gail Kimbell made a guest appearance and handed out the trees. “Take good care of them,” Kimbell told the group of wide-eyed fourth-graders. “I’m sure they’ll be happy to have new homes.”
Kimbell said, “If (children) can understand… how important forests are in our ability to address climate change, the idea of planting a tree and having an affinity for a tree, I think, leads to greater things.”
Mile High Million Grade School Tree Education and Planting Program- Rocky Mountain News