TREE, Teens Reconnecting to Earth Experiences or Teens Restoring Earth's Environment, is a network of outdoor & ecology clubs at K-12 schools, which will be further developed through our website OutdoorClubs.org. Our major goal is to get young people outdoors to learn, work and play. The driving force behind TREE's success involves allowing high school students to facilitate meaningful outdoor experiences for younger students. These "earth experiences," give students confidence, leadership skills and valuable additions to their jobs and/or college applications. They also help students realize that they can truly make a difference.
TREE began, in 1990, as a single outdoor club at Jerome High School by biology teacher Dick Jordan and his students. This original TREE Club was very active, both locally & internationally, & soon new "Branches" joined. TREE continues to branch out and get more students outdoors and involved in a multitude of service activities. Mr. Jordan currently teaches Environmental Science at Timberline High School in Boise, Idaho and serves as its TREE Club advisor.
The idea of being a steward or restorer typically involves man-made objects with cultural heritage and value. Yet this same approach of keeping and returning special pieces of "property" to their original condition can also be applied to natural places. This restorative process works for both the place and the steward and must include local stakeholders, materials and know how, the best science available and digital documentation for later dissemination and improvements to the program.
TREE is part of Mr. Jordan's major program called LifeOutdoors which coordinates: (1) Outside Day, an all day event where high school students mentor elementary students to become much more connected to nature and outdoor activities, (2) Talking Out, a podcast which showcases exceptional outdoor places and the people who love them, (3) Campfire Connections, fun-filled family oriented outdoor events which allow experts & enthusiasts to share there outdoor passions with the young and young at heart, (4) EcoCaching, an outdoor scavenger game where students use smartphones to figure out clues in order to progress to the next "stop" and complete an informative route, and (5) our various summer adventure trips, including international field trips to Belize, Ecuador and Costa Rica, backpacking, and whitewater rafting trips on the Payette and Salmon Rivers.
"Branches," or TREE's clubs, may be formed from existing outdoor/ecology/earth/environmental clubs, or they may be introduced by interested students, parents, teachers or individuals from the community who want to start a group at their K-12 school. TREE is the only grassroots organization where Branches decide their own leadership, activities and finances. Teacher advisors play a pivotal role because they provide motivation, clearance and district resources. "Elders" are community volunteers, (i.e. natural resource professionals, retired educators, business leaders, etc.), who adopt TREE Branches and help advisors coordinate outdoor opportunities. Elders have the experience, expertise and community connections to connect students to their SOIL, or Social Organizations that Invest in Learning.