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I Sit And Look Out: Trees NY works with Queens schools

As the school year ended, Trees New York was busy bringing its greening message to Queens schools.

In early spring, there were school assembly programs in PS 52 in Woodside and the Bell Academy in Bayside. At the events, TNY staff give a lecture/demonstration and slide show on the benefits of trees to our environment, tree biology, street tree care, tree problems and what can be done about them, environmental issues and tree advocacy.

A fascinating new TNY outreach is the Schools and Tree Program. This is funded by Con Edison in a unique, doubly environmentally advantageous way. Since 2007, Con Ed has enrolled over 100,000 of its city and Westchester customers in its paperless billing program. About 12,000 of those customers are in Queens. For every customer who signs up, Con Ed donates $1 to Trees New York. This has enabled TNY to offer trees to plant in schoolyards at no cost. It is part of the MillionTreesNYC program.

Late in May, nine trees were planted at PS 20 in Flushing and three at PS 69 in Jackson Heights. In early June, eight trees were planted at PS 23 in Bellerose and five at PS 153 in Maspeth. Before any planting, which takes place between March 15 and June 15 and October 15 and December 15, TNY staff works with the school to pick the tree and site for the planting, provides trees and supplies for planting, provides tools and safety equipment for students to use while planting, supervises the planting, visits classrooms to talk about trees and their care and distributes TNY publications.

According to a 2003 study, if all American households viewed and paid their bills electronically, it would save 18.5 million trees, avoid 2.2 billion tons of air pollutants and 1.7 billion pounds of solid waste and save 15.8 billion gallons of water.

Trees New York has specially designed programs for elementary, middle and high schools, as well as a Young Citizen Pruner course. An Art of Science program has students creating original works of art and demonstrating their knowledge of tree science and environmental issues.

Trees New York publications are free and cover a wide range of topics. Some are in Spanish as well as English and a special one, “Street & Plaza Tree Maintenance: A Guide for Commercial and Residential Building/Maintenance Personnel” is available in English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese and Haitian Creole. All of these are well-written, easily understandable and well-illustrated.

The Trees New York Citizen Pruner course, described in the last column, is more important than ever in these days, when budget restraints are hitting every government agency. It is fine to keep planting as many trees as we can, but the maintenance of them is vital to the greening of the city. Volunteer Citizen Pruners can make an impressive contribution to all of us.

Susan Gooberman, the executive director of Trees New York is a quietly dynamic leader of a remarkable group of New Yorkers dedicated to expanding and protecting the green of our city. They will be happy to hear from you at 212-227-1887 or treesny@treesny.com.

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