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Tree Campus K–12

Case Study: Borton Magnet Elementary School


School Profile

Type of School: Public magnet school serving grades pre-K through 5 with emphasis on project-based learning, systems thinking, literature, fine arts, and outdoor learning.
Location: Tucson, AZ
Champion: Stephanie Pederson, Outdoor Learning Teacher

Partnerships are at the heart of Borton Magnet Elementary School’s approach to Tree Campus K–12. By bringing arborists from the state Department of Forestry into the classroom and gaining tree identification and planting help from a local Alliance for Community Trees nonprofit, students saw their campus trees through new eyes.

Following is a breakdown of how the school approached each of the four program goals.

  • Goal: Tree Campus Team

    In the fall, Borton Magnet Elementary formed a Tree Team consisting of students and parents. This group met with local nonprofit organization and Alliance for Community Trees member Trees for Tucson, with the original goal of identifying campus trees in need of additional watering from volunteers. Meeting monthly, the team focused on how to best nurture campus trees throughout the year, culminating in the school’s Arbor Day planting celebration in the spring.

  • Goal: Education Plan

    In preparation for a visit from arborists from the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management, third graders prepared questions about the work arborists do and how they do it. Following this, students participated in a preliminary walk around the campus with the arborists to assess the health of the trees. In addition, 10 students participated in a poster contest with the theme “Tree are Superheroes,” and second graders selected a native tree to observe and drew scientific illustrations of the tree.

  • Goal: Hands-On Experience

    Students, staff, volunteers, and arborists from the Department of Forestry and Fire Management performed a complete campus tree inventory and input the data into i-Tree to calculate the benefits of the campus trees.

  • Goal: Arbor Day Observance

    Students from the Tree Campus Team and their families observed Arbor Day in conjunction with their Earth Day celebration by planting a native ironwood tree in the school’s garden area. “At lunch time and during my Outdoor Learning classes, students learned about the ironwood and how the tree has been used by indigenous people in our area,” described outdoor learning teacher Stephanie Pederson. Each was invited to leave the tree a kind message in the form of a wish. These messages were then displayed on the garden fence.


Tree Campus K–12 goals are important to our school because outdoor learning and ecology are subjects we care about at our very core. Students know and understand that trees are vital to our health, happiness and survival, but they do not innately know why or how to care for trees. Students who are connected to their natural surroundings are healthier, calmer, happier, and more successful humans who become stewards for our environment.”

Stephanie Pederson, Outdoor Learning Teacher

Tree Campus K-12 is an Arbor Day Foundation Program in collaboration with: