Tree Planting Tips for Groups
To organize groups of kids in tree-planting projects so that everyone is engaged
- Tree saplings
- Wheelbarrow or other device for transporting compost
- Tools (e.g., shovels, forks, grub hoes)
- Materials to look for in the environment (e.g., rocks, twigs, mulching materials such as grass clippings or shredded leaves)
Mark Zajac - Peace Corps Volunteer, Jamaica (2013-2015) developed a strategy for organizing groups of kids (even 20 or more) in tree-planting projects without turning the event into a chaotic mess.
- Break the group into teams and give each a particular task, perhaps including the following:
- A Compost Team to transport previously prepared compost to where the trees are going to be planted. If you have a wheelbarrow, that can be an effective recruiting tool, because many kids enjoy them.
- A Watering Team to carry buckets of water. It is good to have a few strong guys to help, but don’t dismiss girl power! Because water can be heavy, especially in full 5-gallon buckets, kids quickly learn the benefits of teamwork.
- A Mulching Team to scout for dry leafy materials.
- A Digging Team to dig the holes for the seedlings. This may turn out to be the most popular team, especially when the kids see the tools, so you might tell them that everyone will get a chance to dig as you can rotate the teams. To keep it as organized as possible, create a queue to know which kid will use the tool next, and allow each to have a number of swings.
- A Planting Team to actually take the tree, remove the plastic bag, loosen the roots, place it in the hole, and cover it up.
- A Rock Gathering Team (optional) to gather up rocks (preferably white ones so they are easy to spot) and form rock circles around the trees. Make sure the mulch doesn’t cover up the rocks.
Make sure there is always an adult present. Don’t let the tools be used unsupervised. Be sure to show the kids the proper ways to use the tools. If the kids use a pickax or grub hoe, make sure they look behind themselves before swinging. Tell the kids to keep good safe distances from each other when they use the tools. Advise the kids not to “choke up” on the tools (holding them too close to the head); this will help them hit the ground and not their feet! Finally, remind them not to become too confident with their tools; once kids think they have mastered a tool, they can get careless and someone can get hurt.
This lesson plan is an activity from the Environmental Activities for Youth Clubs and Camps, a resource developed by the Peace Corps Office of Overseas Programming and Training (OPATS). It was contributed by Peace Corps/Jamaica.