‘Tree-Plenishing’ the Earth

AP Environmental Science students give out free trees to ‘undo’ SHS’s paper consumption

Every year, SHS uses about 240 trees worth of paper. Because of this, the AP Environmental Science class started a project this year to help replant the trees that the school uses.
“You can ‘undo your actions’ with another action,” AP Environmental Science teacher Rachel Brunsell said. “So yes, we’re using up paper, but we’re planting a tree.”

Brunsell found out about the project, called “Tree-Plenish,” after they reached out to her. They had previously partnered with another school in the area and wondered if SHS would be interested.
She happily accepted the offer, and her students then calculated the number of trees that are needed to support the yearly paper consumption.

Then, the trees would be sold to students and teachers, who would each pay $5 for their tree. But, English teacher Paige Wyatt, who was helping out with the project while Brunsell was on maternity leave, reached out to tell “Tree-Plenish” that many students at SHS are low-income and may not be able to afford a tree. The company then gave all 240 trees for free, a total that would have otherwise been over $7,000.

Senior Zing Fom said that taking part in the project helped her realize how much she likes serving and helping others.
She helped hand out the trees on May 6, which was her birthday. She said spending her time helping others was different from how she would typically spend her birthday.

Even though it was out of her comfort zone, she had a great time.

“From now on, I think I would like to do even more activities that aren’t just focused on me,” Fom said.

Fom invited her friends along as well, and the entire group enjoyed giving back to the community together. She thinks that doing service could become a new go-to for the group.Even though she wasn’t able to plant a tree, she still believes that she gained a lot through the project.

When Social Studies teacher Daniel Jones first heard about the project from one of his students, he knew that he had to get in on it. He ordered a red maple tree to plant in his yard because many trees in his neighborhood have recently died or fallen down due to the insect, the emerald ash borer.

For Jones, the positives of planting a tree go beyond the project’s overall environmental goal.

“It provides the right aesthetic value for my home,” Jones said. “I can teach my children about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. It’s a family activity that we can do together.”

Jones also said that being in nature motivated his children to work hard, and he enjoyed seeing their excitement about the project.

Sometimes, he has trouble getting them to do other chores, such as folding their clothes. But, when working in the yard, he said that they were focused and interested in the job at hand.

“They work hard when they’re out there in the yard,” Jones said.

Brunsell echoed Jones’s ideas. She said that while most of the year is content based, her favorite part is when she gets to lead hands-on activities that apply what her students have learned.

“I love seeing the kids interact and get excited about nature, because many people don’t nature anymore,” Brunsell said.