Tree Campus K–12
Case Study: Abington Friends School
School ProfileType of School: Independent Quaker school serving grades pre-K through 12 in the greater Philadelphia area.
Location: Jenkintown, PA
Champion: Andrea Emmons, Lower School Director
Trees and environmental stewardship have long been part of Abington Friends School’s history. The framework provided by the Tree Campus K–12 program allows for reflection on this work and guides planning to enhance it moving forward.
Following is a breakdown of how the school approached each of the four program goals.
Goal: Tree Campus Team
As a testament to its commitment to nature, Abington Friends School has both an Environmental Justice committee and an “AFS OUTSIDE” committee, a schoolwide outdoor learning program. These two committees worked together to identify goals and objectives for Tree Campus K–12 with student leadership and the support of an administrator, a science teacher, and an experiential education director.
Goal: Education Plan
Multiple grade levels experienced tree education. Kindergarteners were inspired by the Lorax to come up with ideas about how they could plant and nurture trees. First graders wrote poetry about trees on campus that inspired them, beginning with lines like, “Rustling leaves sound like squirrel footsteps,” “A multi-colored rainbow from red to orange to yellow to green,” and “Bark rough as a rock with veins like a person.” Relying on cardboard tubes and recycled materials, fourth graders were challenged to create free-standing trees to be used on the set of their Winter Program as part of a design challenge. A tree conservation project was at the center of the annual Martin Luther King Day of Service, which brought together students, families, and community members. Volunteers learned about the role of trees in the community and created educational posters. Overall, more than 325 people have been part of these activities related to the Tree Campus K–12 Education Plan.
Goal: Hands-On Experience
Abington Friends School is fortunate to have a formally designated arboretum right on their school campus. This creates a venue for outdoor learning — and hands-on experiences with trees — throughout the school year. Students monitor the trees and receive guidance from the local Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership. In addition, students have the opportunity to care for the trees they planted last year as part of a riparian restoration project at the local Jenkintown Creek.
Goal: Arbor Day Observance
At Abington Friends School, celebrating Arbor Day is part of school culture. Their annual event incorporates music, dancing, poetry, and tree planting. The entire school and many families gather in celebration of trees and witness the first grade and senior classes plant two trees to represent change over time and growth. This ceremony is held on a field ringed by trees planted on Arbor Day in years prior.
Our school has a deep commitment to helping students grow as stewards of the environment. The goals of Tree Campus K–12 highlight how to help our students, families, and neighbors learn about and honor trees, which are critical to our health as a community.”Andrea Emmons, Lower School Director