This spring 70,000 students in 18 states will connect with the environment by planting a free redbud tree seedling provided by Dominion Energy's Project Plant It! program. The program recently expanded to parts of North and South Carolina now served by Dominion Energy.
"Arbor Day, April 26, marks the thirteenth observance of the company's environmental education program to teach children about the important role of trees in the ecosystem," says Hunter A. Applewhite, president of the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation. "It's a privilege to support educators with high-quality instructional tools for the classroom and a tree seedling for each participating student in the communities we serve."
A tree can absorb as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year, says Dan Lambe, president-Arbor Day Foundation.
"Through Project Plant It! Dominion Energy has measurably increased the number of trees in the United States. We are proud to partner with Dominion Energy on this important sustainability measure," Lambe says.
For the 2018-2019 academic year, the program includes new features to engage teachers, parents and youth in learning about the science of trees and their environmental benefits:
- A newly-refreshed Web site, projectplantit.com, highlights resources and lesson plans that educators can download at no charge.
- Three new educational games showcasing tree trivia are now on the website for grade levels K-4, 5-8, and 9-12.
The website also includes an Educator's Guide with 12 STEM-based lesson plans. They support third-grade learning standards for math, science, language arts and social studies, but they can be adapted for any grade level.
Several teachers have shared the creative ways they have used Project Plant It! educational resources inside and outside the classroom.
- Tricia Conlon, a third-grade teacher at Greenwood Elementary School in Henrico County, Virginia, used the math lesson plan to help students estimate percentages of different tree species on the school grounds. "The Project Plant It! materials are very easy to use and very kid-friendly, with little instruction needed by me," she says.
- Kerry Richardson, a first-grade teacher in Richmond, Virginia, talks about trees, seeds and gardening during circle time each morning. "I want the students to love trees as much as I do," she says.
- Rebecca Musso, a sixth-grade science teacher at T. Benton Gayle Middle School in Stafford County, Virginia, had her students plant the tree seedlings at the base of a hill by a pond on the school grounds. The trees will help reduce pollutants from washing into the pond, improving the sustainability of the area's natural habitat.
Dominion Energy's team of foresters and volunteers will provide hands-on support at Arbor Day events and tree-planting celebrations around the country, including several regions in Virginia, South Carolina and Ohio.
Many organizations and agencies have served as longtime partners of Dominion Energy and Project Plant It!, including the Arbor Day Foundation, the Virginia Department of Forestry and hundreds of school systems throughout Dominion Energy's service area.