This fall Talk About Trees (TAT) began its twenty-first year teaching in Oregon’s classrooms. Since it’s inception in 1991, Talk About Trees facilitators have visited with over 2,400,000 people. We continue to grow, becoming more involved in community events and evolving our materials to better serve our audience.
We currently have eighteen facilitators, contracted to teach forest education throughout the state of Oregon. We offer programs to children from pre-school to middle school. Additionally, we are active in many local and statewide events, educating the general population.
Talk About Trees is sponsored by Oregon Women in Timber (OWIT). Oregon Women in Timber is funded in part by Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI). Additional funds are raised through an annual auction and private and corporate donations.
The goals of the Talk About Trees program are:
- to encourage awareness and appreciation for the value of trees and forests in our daily lives
- to encourage an understanding about the protection, management and conservation of the renewable forest
Our forest programs focus on the following concepts:
- Tree Identification/Classification
- Photosynthesis/Tree Growth
- Life Cycle of a Tree
- Forest Health
- Trees as a Renewable Resource
Pre-school, Kindergarten, First and Second grade programs are approximately thirty minutes. Third grade through Eighth grade programs are an average of sixty minutes.
In 1996, we added a classroom paper-making program that has been extremely well received. This program is designed to let each child make and keep their own piece of paper. Through generous donations from Smurfit Newsprint and Boise Cascade, we have two videos that complement this program.
In 1999, Willamette Industries donated large group paper-making equipment so that we can also provide this experience to large crowds, as well as classrooms.
In 1997, we implemented an Outdoor component to the Talk About Trees program. We now can join outdoor schools and other groups looking to experience forest education outside. Each outdoor setting is unique and this program gives facilitators an opportunity to work in a variety of settings.
In 2001, with a grant from the Society of American Foresters, we developed a “Special Events Kit”. This kit provides information and hands-on activities at statewide events such as county fairs, Arbor Day celebrations, science fairs, etc.
Prior to our classroom visit we encourage teachers to visit our website and use our activity packet to prepare their students for our classroom visit. The activities are age appropriate and correlated to the Oregon State Educational Benchmarks.
Annual evaluations are administered to teachers and students alike. Students retain better than 80% of the information presented when tested up to six months after a Talk About Trees Program. Teachers continually rate our program as “excellent” and invite us to return to their classrooms year after year.
Talk About Trees continues to thrive and grow. In the 2011-2012 school year, we visited with over 131,000 children and adults. The ongoing support of Oregon Women In Timber and Oregon Forest Resources Institute and their partners, will allow Talk About Trees to continue to educate Oregonians about the valuable resource of our forests.