Coalition Plans Statewide Youth Tree-A-Thon for 2020

Coalition Plans Statewide Youth Tree-A-Thon for 2020


On Monday, March 16, Beyond School Bells, Nebraska’s statewide afterschool and summer learning network announced its statewide challenge for youth and their communities across the state to collectively plant over 20,000 trees in 2020, starting on Arbor Day weekend, April 24-26. Beyond School Bells is collaborating with afterschool providers across the state, the Arbor Day Foundation, Natural Resources 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," said 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, ‘Norfolk’s 2,020 in 2020’ is an ambitious yet achievable goal that will have long-ranging positive impacts in our community," said Josh Moenning, Mayor of Norfolk said.

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.  

“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, this tree-a-thon gives families and communities an opportunity to strengthen that connection through education and making an impact with their own hands,” said Hill.  

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 Forest Service and NRDs, and develop 6-week and 3-hour afterschool curriculum for programs across the state to utilize free of charge.

"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.

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:

The coalition recognizes the extenuating circumstances the Coronavirus has on families and their communities and will stay updated on the most current information regarding the virus. The beauty of tree planting is that the curriculum and resources can be accessed and downloaded virtually and families can learn about trees and how to plant and take care of them together in their own backyard.