Plant a Tree: Grow a Leader™

Plant a Tree: Grow a Leader logo

Plant A Tree: Grow A Leader™ is an environmental and community stewardship program that provides youth with civic leadership training and workforce development preparedness through hands-on experiences that addresses environmental equity, food sovereignty, as well as pollution-related healthcare concerns. The program engages and exposes youth to community and educational opportunities to stimulate interest and offer preparation for community college programs in horticulture, urban forest management, or public health.

In conjunction with community, education, healthcare, and business partners, Plant A Tree: Grow A Leader™ promotes and facilitates interaction with a broad cross-section of stakeholders, including residents, civic leaders, city agencies, public health agencies, and arbor care service providers. Youth participants also will have the opportunity to interact with peer-level environmental stewardship leaders, environmental activists, authors and thought leaders across the globe.

Plant A Tree: Grow A Leader participants also can help with the planning and planting of trees to transform local K-12 school grounds into certified Tree Campuses

Hands on activities, presentations and community dialogue-listening sessions afford participants of all ages the opportunity to identify local issues; collectively brainstorm solutions and make recommendations. While planting and preserving trees is the primary focus of the program, participants also are engaged in equity-building because the community has as much say and as much at stake as all of its partners.

Incorporating STEAM-principles (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math & Media Literacy), the program is the gateway for successful environmental stewardship for youth, the community, as well as the trees. In addition, Plant A Tree: Grow A Leader™ fosters community development and beautification in areas that are heat islands, food deserts, or have poor health outcomes resulting from indoor and outdoor pollution.

Jeri Love is the founder and the director of Plant A Tree: Grow A Leader. She is a member of the Alliance for Community Trees, North American Association for Environmental Education, Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education, and the North American Nature Photographers Association. She received certification in environmental education and community engagement from Cornell University’s Civic Ecology Lab.

Trees are storehouses of ancient wisdom, collectors of history, bridges between cultural traditions, and the common denominator spanning most religious and spiritual traditions. They are a source of environmental integrity, public health support, economic vitality, and community beautification. That makes trees the natural portal for building and strengthening bonds between people and nature, where they live, go to school, or where they work.

When we work together to plant trees, we activate, unite and strengthen our communities. We also grow leaders for the future.

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 Jeri Love had her first encounter with a paper birch tree. Consequently, she was inspired to use the photographic arts to create tree portraits that help viewers see and experience our shared connection with nature’s largest and most beneficent plant.

Profoundly moved by the tree-planting work of the late Nobel Laureate Dr. Wangari Maathai and the women of the Green Belt Movement in Kenya, Jeri’s first solo exhibition promoted a giveaway of heritage tree seedlings for attendees to plant.

Since that time, the ever-expanding project has been exhibited nationwide, including at museums, galleries, as well as community centers. Utilizing photography and other creative arts, Jeri has worked with tree-planting organizations, community groups, nature centers, and schools to share the expansive gifts of trees, as well as foster tree stewardship.

Plant A Tree: Grow A Leader™ is the community engagement component of her photography project. She established it to involve youth in building bridges between tree-planting programs and the broader community. Participants are able to develop leadership skills and utilize science, technology, arts, math and media literacy to address issues of environmental equity.

Images from The Beauty & Wonder of Trees Project are available for exhibition and purchase. Jeri also is available for commissions of portraits of historic and champion trees or documentary photographic studies of community trees. She photographs milestone tree plantings for: new homeowners; to celebrate births; to mark graduations, or in memorial of a loved one. Jeri also can photograph portraits of beloved trees

I, Wonder

Dr. Wangari Mathaai

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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