Plant A Tree: Grow A LeaderSM

Environmental Education and Community Engagement

Plant A Tree: Grow A LeaderSM is a hands-on, civic leadership training program for middle and high school students. It utilizes the principles of Place-based Environmental Education, STEAM education, community engagement, and the creative arts to foster community revitalization through the process of tree planting and tree stewardship. 

Plant A Tree: Grow A LeaderSM helps students identify local issues related to neighborhood treescapes, collectively brainstorm, envision solutions, and then take action to improve the quality of community life. The program facilitates interactions with a broad cross-section of local stakeholders, including politicians, community and business leaders, public works officials, public health researchers, arborists, tree-planting organizations and residents to help implement their suggestions for the betterment of their surrounding neighborhood. 

In addition, the students have the option to exchange ideas with their peers who are engaged in similar activities around the country and the world. They also will learn about Environmental Justice, Tree EquityTM, as well as career opportunities related to the tree care industry—ranging from Arborist and Landscape Architect to Urban Forester and Christmas Tree Farmer.

Utilizing the principles of STEAM education, the students work in teams to learn about the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA program; investigate the status of their community trees; study the health and environmental issues associated with the trees in their neighborhoods; learn interview preparation and how to conduct interviews; develop listening and dialogue skills; participate in community outreach and engagement; create presentations; practice and engage in public speaking; participate in writing and visual art projects to share the value of trees with their fellow students; learn exhibition curation; understand advocacy; learn how public works programs are established and how laws are enacted; practice civic engagement, and participate in an urban tree planting and environmental stewardship project.

Through these activities, students develop a broader awareness of the critical importance of trees in their immediate environment—backyards, neighborhoods, local playgrounds, school grounds, community parks and local forest preserves—which helps them cultivate a sense of responsibility and purpose for planting, protecting and preserving trees because of the vast array of benefits they provide. 

Plant A Tree: Grow A LeaderSM activates and empowers youth with the skills to become engaged community and environmental leaders of the future. For more information about bringing the program to your school or community—in-person, via Zoom or via workbook—click here.

The Beauty and Wonder of Trees Project

Exhibitions, Presentations, Workshops and Tree Portraits

“We are called to assist the Earth…in all of its diversity, beauty and wonder.”

 – Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Wangari Maathai

The Beauty & Wonder of Trees Project was established in 2013 after an encounter with a paper birch tree and the discovery of the image, Reveal the True Self. Jeri Love was then moved to use the photographic arts to help viewers see and experience our shared relationship with nature’s largest and most beneficent plant.

Inspired by the work of the late Nobel Laureate Dr. Wangari Maathai and the women of the Green Belt Movement in Kenya, her first solo exhibition included images of neighborhood Champion Trees and promoted a give-away of heritage tree seedlings.

Since that time, images from the ever-expanding project have been exhibited nationwide in galleries, as well as community centers. Then, a community-engagement component emerged. Utilizing photography and additional creative arts, Jeri has worked with tree-planting organizations, community groups, public works, nature centers, and schools to help them share the expansive and expressive gifts of trees, empower communities, and foster tree stewardship.

I, Wonder

Dr. Wangari Mathaai

Commission a Tree Project for Your School, Community or Your Family

Is your community a “tree city?” Is your college or university a “tree campus?” Showcase your commitment to planting, nurturing, and protecting the trees with photographic documentation.

Or have you planted trees to celebrate family milestones—the birth of a child or the passing of a loved one? Document your family history with a photograph.

Jeri Love is available for commissions for the creation of documentary photographic studies of community trees; the creation of photographic books, or photographic exhibitions of your community trees.

Images from The Beauty and Wonder of Trees Project also are available for purchase and display. For additional information, click here.

For more information, contact:

Titanosaurus Tree

Gallery Photos by Maria Rebelo

Thank You to Our Benefactors:

Donna Baiocchi Cora Jacobs Maria Rebelo Lynn Sakamoto Kay Yoshi Sakamoto Selah’s Caring Hands Otherie Winfield Love

Special Thanks to Our Sponsors and Supporters:

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum Kalamazoo Institute of Art  Kalamazoo Nature Center  ▪ Kalamazoo Neighborhood Services and Matt Lager Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy ▪ Citizen Foresters and John Kost   The Pentatura Artists  ▪ Chicago Alliance of Visual Artists ▪ Ed Kaiser ▪ Sergio Rebelo ▪ Tom Jacobs ▪ Jennifer Joseph ▪ Kathleen Valenzi Knaus ▪ Mary Busch ▪ Nancy Brothers ▪ Patricia Wallace ▪ Laurie Pruitt ▪ Lois Jackson ▪ Jim Jackson ▪ James C. Palmore ▪ Arthur E. Falk ▪ Steve Keto ▪ John Short ▪ Rebecca Brand ▪ Claudia Welsh ▪ Melissa Toyashima ▪ Maya Joseph-Brooks ▪ Fuquan Brooks

Dedicated to all of my teachers who helped me to see the light:

Daisaku Ikeda ▪ Otherie Winfield Love ▪ Samuel M. Love ▪ Sheryl Love-Bennewitz ▪ Christer Bennewitz ▪ Gurdrun Gudmundsdottir ▪ Emma Owens ▪ Ethel Felton ▪ Gladys Gates ▪ Oliver Gates ▪ Minnie Gilmer Adams  ▪ Louise Eason ▪ Arnold Winfield ▪ Florence Frye Winfield ▪ Prentice Winfield, Jr. ▪ Gregory Hicks ▪ Michael Graves ▪ Carolyn Somerville ▪ Akemi Bailey-Haynie ▪ Linda C. Johnson ▪ Margrette Francisco ▪ Celia Francisco ▪ Robin J. Carlson ▪ Michael Frye ▪ Claudia Welsh ▪ Laurie Pruitt ▪ Fran Jemmott ▪ Bill Lynch, Sr. ▪ Kathleen Clemmons ▪ Mike Moats ▪ Jack Carlson ▪ Dianne Kittle ▪ Gina Grillo ▪ Diana Beresford-Kroeger ▪ Pat Tobin ▪ Dennis Murray ▪ Myra J ▪ David Perry, Sr. ▪ Cassandra Medley ▪ Will Scheffer ▪ Kenny Fries ▪ Marina Budhos ▪ Pami Osaki ▪ Junse Kim ▪ Madge Bares ▪ Judy MacLeod ▪ Desmond Joseph-Brooks ▪ Layla Joseph-Brooks

“He who plants a tree, plants a hope.”

– Lucy Larcom

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