Lake Metroparks’ Trees for Wildlife is a nature education outreach program designed for all first graders in Lake County. Children discover the importance of trees through an interactive presentation of local wildlife and a visit from Woody, the friendly tree mascot of Trees for Wildlife, who shares a story and is then covered with animal puppets as students recall which animals use trees and how they are used. Woody raises his right branch as the students repeat the tree pledge and is often the recipient of thank you hugs and high fives. Children recite an adoption pledge with Woody the Tree and receive a certificate to care for their new tree.
Lake Metroparks began Trees for Wildlife with the purpose of sharing with first graders the importance of trees in their community. For more than 25 years the program continues to help students understand how plants, animals, the environment, and people are connected. To achieve this, students name some local animals that depend on trees for their survival, list ways trees benefit wildlife, and state ways people can help trees and wildlife. Additional activities for the students to complete before and after the program are provided to the teachers. Each child is presented with a hardy white spruce seedling and planting instructions.
Over 68,000 children have learned how plants, animals, the environment, and people are connected and received a tree to plant throughout the years the program has been presented. Each year, nearly 2,600 students will participate.
The program, offered free of charge to all Lake County schools, involves Lake Metroparks staff, volunteers, and community partnership with the Lubrizol Corporation, which began its sponsorship of the program in 1991. This sponsorship funds the purchase of the trees for the children. A grant from the Charles L. Pack Foundation four years ago allowed for the purchase of two professionally made inflatable tree costumes and laptop computers with projectors.