Licensed early childhood programs plant seedling trees through grant

Colorado State Forest Service’s Project Learning Tree provided trees

July 18, 2014

GARFIELD COUNTY, CO – Garfield County is greener and little tykes are learning about little sprouts through a grant from the National Project Learning Tree (PLT) program of the Colorado State Forest Service. Free seedling trees prompted planting projects through the Garfield County Department of Human Services (DHS) Child Care Program and 12 schools throughout the state.

The DHS Child Care Program received 15 seedlings for local early child care and education programs interested in beautifying outdoor play areas and providing learning opportunities for children, teachers and families involved in planting and nurturing the trees.

“The opportunity to get free seedling trees through Project Learning Tree benefitted both the community and the children,” said Rebecca Romeyn, a child care consultant with the DHS Child Care Program. “The teachers and children were excited about participating in a planting project and learned much in the process of planting them.”

In fact, the excitement has been ongoing for at least some of the children involved in the planting project. “My kids check on their tree every week,” said Jeanette Thompson, a family child care provider in Rifle. “One little person commented that it was really cool having their own miniature tree! It will be fun to see their reactions as the tree grows.”

Participating entities came up with some creative ways to engage children’s families in planting the trees too. For example, the Garden School in New Castle incorporated tree planting into Mother’s Day festivities and Ross Montessori Preschool in Carbondale incorporated tree planting in this year’s Father’s Day celebration.

“It was neat to hear and see how these programs personalized tree projects to suit their interests and needs,” commented Donna Ward, a child care consultant with DHS Child Care Program, ” A lot of good idea sharing went on during the PLT-based training we held, and site visits we made to support the programs in their efforts.”

Veronica Capraro, a family home provider in Rifle, helped her children plant their seedlings in barrels so that they could nurture their baby trees while working on reconfiguring their outdoor play area. Liz Pittman, a family home provider in Parachute, borrowed magnifying and colored lenses from the county’s child care resource van so children could closely examine their seedlings in fun ways, while honing their scientific inquiry skills. Liz made plans to make “tree journals” out of paper, using twigs and yarn as binding, for children to record their observations creatively with pictures, photos, dictation and writing.

The Colorado State Forest Service’s Project Learning Tree program provides professional development for educators and promotes the forest as a window on the world to increase students’ understanding of our environment, and to help develop their abilities to make informed decisions on environmental issues. For more information on PLT resources for teachers and families, visit here or the Colorado State Forest Service website. To attend a PLT workshop and for information regarding this year’s Garfield County Association of Family Child Care Conference August 9, 2014, contact Joyce Gaston at 970-366-1053.