Afterschool and Summer Learning Network Beyond School Bells and Partnership Coalition Grow the Good Life: Statewide Youth Tree-A-Thon Planned for Arbor Day Weekend and 2020

Youth and their communities are collaborating to plant over 20,000 trees 

On Friday, March 13, Beyond School Bells, Nebraska’s afterschool and summer learning network announced its statewide challenge for youth and their communities across the state to collectively plant over 20,000 trees on Arbor Day weekend, April 24-26.

We’re happy to see Beyond School Bells, an initiative at Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, is living out our mission to create a Nebraska where positive change occurs for our children through community engagement such as the Tree-A-Thon.

Beyond School Bells is collaborating with afterschool providers across the state, the Arbor Day Foundation, Natural Resource Districts, Audubon Nebraska, Nebraska Forest Service, community leaders, and the University of Nebraska to help achieve this goal.  

“At Beyond School Bells, we believe that learning does not stop before or after the school bell rings. Afterschool programs provide hands-on, real world and engaging educational opportunities for youth across our state, such as this Tree-A-Thon,” wrote Anna Wishart, Director of Partnerships

Norfolk is one city that is collaborating on this effort and plans to plant 2,020 trees in collaboration with the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District and area schools and businesses.

“Working with community partners and engaged citizens, ‘2020 in 2020’ is an ambitious yet achievable goal that will have long-ranging positive impacts in our community,” Josh Moenning, Mayor of Norfolk said. 

“To continue to wisely manage and enhance our natural resources in the future, it is important that we maintain our shared connection to nature,” said Austen Hill, Education Supervisor for the Papio-Missouri River NRD. 

“By partnering with Beyond School Bells’ Nebraska Tree-A-Thon, it gives families and communities an opportunity to strengthen that connection through education and making an impact with their own hands,” said Hill.

To achieve the statewide Tree-A-Thon goal, this coalition of nonprofits and community leaders will recruit youth and community volunteers, purchase trees, and train youth and their families on the environmental and public health benefits of trees and how to plant and take care of them.  

“We need trees to keep our communities cool, healthy, and resilient. We’re so excited to see the next generation of tree stewards make an impact on their communities and learn the lifelong skills of planting and caring for trees,” said Logan Donahoo, K-12 program manager at the Arbor Day Foundation.

Beyond School Bells and their partners are continuing to grow the good life on behalf our our children.

Last month, a cohort of talented college students from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln underwent a Hack-A-Thon to hack material from the Arbor Day Foundation, Nebraska Forestry and NRDs, and develop 6-week and 3-hour afterschool curriculum for programs across the state to utilize free of charge.  

Nebraskans that want to participate in the Tree-A-Thon can go to this website to RSVP and receive updates, get connected with youth and organizations in their community and download the Tree-A-Thon curriculum.

Beyond School Bells is literally living out our mantra to grow the good life for all our children. We look forward to this exciting collaboration.

The coalition recognizes the extenuating circumstances due to the Coronavirus and will stay updated on the most current information regarding the virus and whether a postponement of the Arbor Day events will be necessary to a fall planting.

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Nebraska Children and Families Foundation supports children, young adults and families at risk with the overall goal of giving our state's kids what they need to reach their full potential. We do this by building strong communities that support families so their children can grow up to be thriving, productive adults.

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Posted in Middle Childhood, News and Events, Teen/Early Adulthood

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