Youth Environmental Literacy K-12


Trees New York’s educational programs increase students’ environmental literacy, enrich their civic engagement and give them a competitive academic edge.

The objective of Trees New York’s Youth Environmental Literacy Programs is to raise students’ awareness of environmental issues while advancing their reading, language and investigative skills. Students are empowered to become advocates for and stewards of the urban environment through service-learning projects that improve their communities.

Elementary – Lessons expand students’ awareness of trees and the urban environment. Students examine the main parts of the tree, learn why trees are important in a city and what they can do to help ensure their survival. Students increase their science-based concepts and vocabulary by learning the meaning of terms such as photosynthesis, urban forest, urban heat island effect and erosion.

Students create original works of art such as writing and performing songs, dances or plays, drawing cartoons or creating art and sculpture demonstrating their knowledge of tree science and environmental issues. Elementary students receive Trees New York’s New York City Street Tree Activity Book. The activities in the handbook require students to read, write and think critically. Activities require a basic understanding of tree-related concepts and include spelling, word recognition and reading comprehension activities.

Middle School – Students investigate New York City’s urban forest and discuss solutions to the many challenges in the urban environment. Lessons include tree biology, tree maintenance, tree identification, invasive insects and environmental issues such as air and water quality. Hands-on activities include mulching and cultivating the soil, litter removal and tree bed gardening.

Students receive Trees New York’s Urban Tree Advocacy Handbook: How to Improve Your Local Environment. The curriculum emphasizes important urban forestry concepts and motivates students to become active in environmental stewardship.

High School – Students investigate New York City’s urban forest and discuss solutions to the many challenges in the urban environment. Lessons include tree biology, tree maintenance, tree identification, invasive insects and environmental issues such as the urban heat island effect, stormwater management, energy overload and an introduction to environmental careers. The curriculum highlights the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM subjects). Students receive Trees New York’s Urban Tree Advocacy Handbook: How to Improve Your Local Environment and Trees New York’s Guide to New York City Street Trees.