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Seedlings at Schools: the evergreen legacy of Trees for Life

25 August 2017

Sam Gibson's official title is Ethical Projects Officer, but she often refers to herself as 'The Tree Lady'. That's because she manages our Trees for Life projects, keeping alive a commitment to tree planting that goes back to 1990, when Bettys set out to plant 3 million trees around the world. Here, she explores the impact of one of our most recent projects, Seedlings at Schools, as it draws to a close.

As I follow a small group of excited children through a ‘tree trail’ just outside their classroom, watch them crayoning leaf patterns onto their worksheets, figuring out which tree is which and collecting leaves and cones as they go, I think about how children will hopefully be following their map through these same trees in years to come and how ‘Seedlings at Schools’ can make a difference in the future.

We started the programme three years ago as part of our long term Trees for Life initiative that has been planting trees around the world since 1990. The aim was for pupils to plant and nurture saplings from native Yorkshire seeds while learning about the importance of trees and the environment. Thanks to the project children from 30 schools around Yorkshire have gathered seeds, planted saplings, made bird feeders and nesting boxes, built woodland dens, designed tree trails and generally discovered the joy of trees and their local landscape. Ian Johnson from our tree planting partners, Groundwork, has done the most fantastic job inspiring pupils to appreciate and care for their environment and here he rounds up his thoughts on the project as a whole.

“This is the end of the third and final year of the Seedlings at Schools project and it is with a great deal of pride and pleasure that I look back over the last three years and think about all the activities, schools and pupils that I have worked with.

"I would like to say a big thank you to everyone that has been involved and for all their enthusiasm, commitment and encouragement throughout the three years. I hope they have found it worthwhile and that it has inspired their pupils to enjoy being outside with trees and the environment and to value, protect and enhance them in the future.

"The facts and figures about the project only tell half the story. They make good reading and show the amount of time and effort that has gone into the project. Over 10,000 trees planted over the past three years, over 150 events carried out with schools and community groups and over 10,000 pupils either directly or indirectly involved in the project in some capacity.

"The other part of the story is the children and adults who took part. This is captured in the photographs, films and quotes that give some idea of what the schools and community groups have contributed to Seedlings at Schools.

"Out of the hundreds of photos that have been taken during the project I have selected three that sum up the Seedlings at Schools project to me. They show the enjoyment, enthusiasm and hard work that all the children who took part have given to the project. Thank you.”