Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey (GSHNJ) – along with Girl Scouts across the country – are collaborating to plant five million trees by 2026 to help wildlife, improve the environment and greatly expand the amount of tree cover.
Girl Scouts have been strong advocates and stewards of the environment since 1912. Climate change has been a top concern in recent years, prompting the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) to partner with American Forests, and the Elliot Wildlife Values Project to launch the Girl Scout Tree Promise.
GSHNJ has spent the past year conducting outreach and building partnerships to identify local initiatives and partners as well as locations needing trees for various reforestation and conservation projects. Key in this effort, the group is working with seven AmeriCorps Watershed Ambassadors, hosted by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) as well as additional partners including the South Mountain Conservancy, Sourland Conservancy, Sustainable Manville, Branch Brook Park Alliance/Jersey Cares, and other environmental groups who have expressed interest in partnering.
To assist in the campaign, GSHNJ is one of four councils to receive a $5,000 Girl Scout Tree Promise grant. GSHNJ has committed to plant 2,000 trees and integrate tree planting and other conservation efforts into current and future programming and events.
Kelly McDonald, Girl Experience Manager, and Kate Grenci, Camp Director and Property Manager, The OVAL and Camp DeWitt, are working together to plant, protect and honor trees within the council footprint and at The OVAL and Camp Agnes Dewitt properties.
“There are so many events taking place this spring and into the fall,” McDonald said. “GSHNJ has implemented a number of environmental stewardship programs and outdoor initiatives such as Trailblazer troops, Family Ramblers Hiking Club, nature hikes, virtual girl programs and adult enrichment workshops.”
On Earth Day – which is Thursday, April 22 from 7:30 to 8:15 pm – GSUSA will be hosting a live virtual event, titled “Awesome Girls: Planting the Future with the Girl Scout Tree Promise.” Danni Washington, a Girl Scout alumni, science TV Host, and correspondent on season one of “Mission Unstoppable” on CBS, will be part of this special event.
With Washington, the Girl Scouts will learn about the power of trees and to take the Girl Scout Tree Promise.
The initiative to plant and honor trees is open to the public. Everyone (Girl Scouts and non-Girl Scouts) who plants a tree can record their good deeds through an online tree tracker, and are eligible to receive a special Tree Promise Patch.
“The Tree Promise initiative could not have come at a better time,” McDonald noted. “Helping the environment has been a sweet spot for so many girls. To be able to be outdoors is renewing and is so good for our mental health.”
For more information about events and programs, please visit www.gshnj.org.