5 Million Trees Will Be Planted in Five Years, Thanks to This Program
A core value of being a Girl Scout is helping build a better world. One way Girl Scouts are doing this is through a new initiative called the Girl Scout Tree Promise — a program in which Girl Scout members and community participants will plant at least 5 million trees by 2026.
“The goal of the Girl Scout Tree Promise is to plant, protect, and honor trees in communities around the country and even around the world,” says Meg Phillips, the outdoor program specialist and resident camp director for Girl Scouts of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho (GSEWNI). “It is a service project for Girl Scouts in every council, including Girl Scouts Overseas, to better connect with their surroundings and feel accountable for the restoration that is taking place.”
Solid Roots of Transformation
The program officially launched in 2021, and is supported through grants provided by the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA). Phillips’s council has received more than $5,000, which will help troops in these areas plant 2,250 trees.
“There are similar initiatives across the world and the country to plant trees to help combat climate change,” Phillips tells CircleAround. “But a lot of these programs are donation based. Though these initiatives are great and they can get a lot of trees in the ground, they feel very disconnected.”
Keeping the Planting Spirit Alive
One of the greatest advantages of The Girl Scout Tree Promise program is that the work doesn’t stop once the planting is done. Girl Scouts and community members plan to continue taking care of the trees and ensure the environment is maintained for decades to come.
“The unique geography of our council and the diverse regions within our council did pose some difficult planting conditions during the ideal planting season, mid-spring,” Phillips explains. “With the difficult planting conditions mixed in with our cookie sale being in the peak of our cookie season, we had to get creative to make sure our members were able to successfully plant trees.”
Branching Into the Community
Phillips and her local Girl Scouts used their skills to ensure success. They developed partnerships with local organizations to plant trees. Organizations, such as state and local parks, provided space where trees could be planted, thrive, and benefit the community. Local conservation organizations also helped support the program with their tree-planting expertise and access to willing and able community members.
Phillips worked to deliver trees to Girl Scout troops and families so they could plant them in their yards or other approved locations. She and her team created a pick-up date for local troops and families, and helped ship bare root trees to girls in areas outside of their highly populated areas of our council. “This second approach is extremely helpful in reaching all of the rural communities in our region that might not be able to drive to Spokane for an hour or two-hour long event, but still want to participate,” she tells CircleAround.
Planting a Susie Forest
“In addition to planting trees and creating habitats for wildlife, we are implementing other aspects of this program into our summer camp programs here in Girl Scouts of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho,” Phillips adds.
Initiatives include engaging campers in citizen science projects throughout the summer, and protecting trees at Camp Four Echoes, their resident camp, and Camp Ashwell, their day camp. “Protecting and honoring trees has been a part of our council for years as we have been working to plant a Susie Forest,” Phillips says, “which is a patch program that we have in place to honor a late alum, Susie, from our council who loved trees.”
The Bottom Line
The ultimate goal of the Girl Scout Tree Promise program is to help create spaces for new tree foundations, and to improve habitats for wildlife. With the ingenuity of councils like GSEWNI, and sustainability measures put into place, the Girl Scout Tree Promise is sure to help create an environment that can be enjoyed by generations to come.
Girl Scouts can stay connected to the movement using an online tracker to chart the progress of the trees and the Girl Scouts who have received the Girl Scout Tree Promise patch.