At Tree Trust, there is no shortage of reasons to get excited about trees. This is especially true when it comes to our Learning with Trees program that gets kids planting trees while learning about their benefits. Since 1992, Tree Trust has been partnering with schools across Minnesota to help beautify school grounds and teach kids about trees as they engage in environmental stewardship. Learning with Trees, funded by corporate sponsorships from generous organizations including CenterPoint Energy and Dakota Electric Association, and foundation grants from Beim Foundation, The Nash Foundation, Smikis Foundation, and Xcel Energy Foundation, is a free program for Minnesota elementary and middle schools.

Learning with Trees uses collaborative planning with teachers, parents, and custodial staff to create a tree planting plan and outdoor classroom (if desired), all at no cost to the school. The program also includes a traveling exhibit, “Our Town Trees.” Designed with the Science Museum of Minnesota and the US Forest Service, this exhibit comes to the school for a week to help students learn about the benefits of trees for themselves and the environment. The program culminates with a school-wide planting day where each classroom gets to plant a tree with Tree Trust staff and our team of trained volunteers. This approach really brings trees and their benefits to life for every child.  

Jeff Radel, principal at Glen Lake Elementary in Minnetonka had this to say after a successful planting day in May 2021: “It’s very important for our school to have trees and for our students to see the process of tree planting. We’re trying to get our students outdoors more and more every day, for outdoor education, outdoor experiences, play, and exercise… Tree Trust from the very start has partnered with us, creating our plans and identifying the process: putting the map into place, identifying which tree should go where [and] the benefits of this tree being in this location. It’s been really fun to work with Tree Trust!” 

Learning with Trees offers engaging experiences for every child, both inside and outside the classroom. Using trees as a learning tool, Learning with Trees takes students beyond books or a science class. The program inspires the next generation of leaders to plant trees by providing hands-on learning that teaches kids about trees and their benefits. This program not only encourages environmental stewardship, it also positively impacts students. These positive impacts include helping children learn and focus better while at school. According to a 2015 study from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, students who had a green window view (a view with either greenery or a tree present) recovered from mental fatigue faster and were able to pay attention longer and thus retain information better. 

Learning with Trees is an easy way to green your school grounds using a proven and successful project approach. Our expert Forestry staff, who plans and conducts many annual community planting events, will meet with you to talk about your vision for your school’s landscape, determine the perfect time for the program, and plan a planting day, including the type of tree to be planted. We will also review future maintenance of the planted trees. Each landscape plan fits your school’s unique needs. Learning with Trees is a statewide program and schools from Greater Minnesota are encouraged to apply. Tree Trust typically collaborates with 4-5 schools per year, and the application is open year-round. School eligibility is dependent on location and sponsorship availability.

If you’d like to look into Learning with Trees for your school, contact Tree Trust Community Forestry today. And thank you to the generous foundations and companies that make this program free for schools!