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Find out more about the Legacy Center arboretum

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Can a tree change your classroom or your family?

Teachers and parents are looking for new ways to make education in the 21st century relevant to students, reinforce character traits like responsibility and respect, and inspire students to make a difference in their own lives and the world. That's what TreeKeepers is all about. It takes a big, topical issue – the environment – and connects it to young people in a meaningful way across the curriculum. You have the flexibility to use what you want and adapt as required.

As part of TreeKeepers, you'll join the Legacy Project in supporting the global Earth Charter. TreeKeepers is a powerful, effective way for students to get more connected with the natural world and learn about environmental issues while building important literacy, science, social studies, character and life skills. Your TreeKeepers participation also helps us build and maintain the important ecological legacy of the Legacy Center arboretum.

Children and teens will learn more about the Legacy Center arboretum, trees, and a variety of environmental issues; they can track what's happening in the arboretum and participate in classroom and online activities; and students have special access to interact with tree-lover, author, and educator Susan V. Bosak – including getting a sneak peek at her new book inspired by the trees in the arboretum!

Susan feels that "trees just don't get enough respect. They're amazing! I want to show you just how amazing by sharing the stories and secrets of the trees. Trees are also wonderful metaphors and symbols you can use to make meaningful connections across the curriculum."

Trees cover approximately 30% of the Earth's total land area. They're home to 80% of our terrestrial biodiversity. They've existed on Earth for hundreds of millions of years and, with a typical lifespan of 100-200 years, long outlive people. Trees are the largest of living things – some species grow over 300 feet tall and may weigh 600 tons. By taking in carbon dioxide and giving off oxygen, they help combat global warming. Trees provide homes for animals and people, along with food and medicines. Trees add beauty to our world, and they lift our spirits.

But we are losing trees – too many trees. In the last 20 years, we've lost 6 million hectares of primary forests. A tree that has grown for over 1,000 years can be cut down in minutes by a purposeful chainsaw. The demand for timber has seen commercial logging of forests increase exponentially in the last 100 years, and the conversion of forest to pastures and agricultural land is further driving deforestation across the globe. Sadly, the soils are often not very fertile and so within a few years the crop or grassland is unproductive and abandoned. Where once mighty trees stretched to the stars supporting an abundance of living things, there's nothing but a wasteland.

Saving the trees will help to save us. Among the many messages in the Earth Charter is a respect and care for the environment while encouraging a transition to sustainable ways of living and human development – to create a legacy for our future that works. Here's an excerpt from the Earth Charter:

"Everyone shares responsibility for the present and future well-being of the human family and the larger living world… Life often involves tensions between important values. This can mean difficult choices. However, we must find ways to harmonize diversity with unity, the exercise of freedom with the common good, short-term objectives with long-term goals. Every individual, family, organization, and community has a vital role to play."

We can dream something new. As a TreeKeeper, YOU can dream something new and create a meaningful legacy.

The Legacy Project helps teachers, parents, and students explore the three levels at which each of us creates our legacy from childhood through to older adulthood: personal, interpersonal, and community/world. We help you to develop personal potential (our LifeDreams program), build relationships (our Across Generations program), and make a difference in our communities and world (the Our World program).

Dream Tree from the award-winning book "Dream" by Susan V. Bosak

In the Legacy Project's award-winning book Dream, the green pages feature the Dream Tree. That Dream Tree, a tree of life, represents the best we can be. You can see all ages, races, religions, and cultures working together to care for it. The text on the page reads: "Dreams grow like seeds./They need to take root,/then stretch toward the sun./They grow slowly./They must be tended to."

Plant your seed and start the dream growing. TreeKeepers materials can be adapted for students in grades 3 to 8. Each month you'll receive a TreeKeepers e-Newsletter from Susan Bosak:

  • Updates on the cool things growing in the Legacy Center arboretum.

  • Fascinating facts and stories about trees with environmental links.

  • Fun and intriguing photos from the arboretum with writing prompts.

  • Activities and lesson ideas with links to literacy, science/math, social studies, and character education.

  • An opportunity for students to e-mail Susan with questions, stories, and to share information they've discovered about trees.

Silver Acorn

Susan will regularly choose from the e-mails she receives and send a selected student a Silver Acorn as a symbol of their important role as a TreeKeeper. The Silver Acorn is inspired by the Oak tree Susan planted in the Legacy Center arboretum for her father (every tree has its story!). You can keep the lucky acorn in your pocket, bag, or desk. For those who hold it close and honor it, the Silver Acorn brings long life and wisdom. The acorn is a symbol of strength and courage, life and hope.

As TreeKeepers, young people will know they're making a difference in the world by helping the trees in the Legacy Center arboretum, and they'll feel connected to other students across the country who are also making a difference.

We need new ways to help students learn. We need ways to help them make meaningful connections to their own life, the people around them, and the world they live in. A simple tree can help you grow something special in your classroom or family. That's what TreeKeepers is all about.

Sign up for TreeKeepers by e-mail or call the Legacy Project at 1-800-772-7765.

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