Presenting The Claremont Green Team
Worcester Tree Initiative loves being at the intersection of built environments and open, natural spaces. Kaid Benfield calls this balanced intersection “people habitat”, a term I’m fond of. Human’s understanding of the importance of natural spaces to our life is still developing but it’s clear that we have to strike a balance in creating people habitat in which we can thrive and not just survive and WTI really believes in that and strives to be part of making it. That’s why we keep beating the drum; planting and caring for trees and spreading the message of the importance of trees in the places we live.
It is with this in mind that we have been working with a group of young people at Claremont Academy, forming a new club called the Claremont Green Team. This group of young, enthusiastic, environmentally minded students meet twice a month to learn about various topics in sustainability, often related to trees but also other topics, and then learning what they can do to be part of a solution. One of the big focuses we’ve had so far is waste disposal, learning about where our stuff comes from and where it goes when we’re done with it. Students calculated their global footprint and learned that their diet and energy consumption were two major factors contributing to their high level of impact. They also learned about the importance of reusing empty containers and recycling whenever they can.
Of course, I spend a lot of time talking about trees, so we’ve also talked about the importance of trees to cities. Anyone who has ever seen one of my presentations will be familiar with my game; rather than jumping right into a presentation I start by having you tell me what you already know about trees and why they’re important. These kids were smart and intuitive and got most of my eight big ideas without help, but by exploring what they already know first I get to applaud them and then fill in the gaps in their knowledge.
This spring we’re going to be going to explore other topics like solar energy, sustainability in their school, where Worcester’s water goes, and especially exciting, we’re going to visit Tower Hill Botanic Garden to learn about horticulture and we’re revisiting the topic of arboriculture with professional tree climbers Bear and Melissa Levangie, who will be getting the kids into harnesses and teaching them how to climb the tree. WTI will also be teaching the students about tree pruning this winter and tree identification and health assessments in the spring.
This club has been an awesome part of the fall and winter thus far. I want to thank Zach Fellows, my co-teacher and faculty support, and Bob Knittle, a Focused Instructional Coach at Claremont and one of our biggest champions in the school. They have made this opportunity possible. And of course I want to thank the kids, they’re so much fun to work with and so bright. I can’t wait for the coming weeks and months as we explore new topics and get these young people excited about creating and living in better People Habitat.
If you want Worcester Tree Initiative to come to talk to your class or club, or you want learn about how to start a Green Team at your school you can reach out to me at [email protected]