Project Learning Tree helps empower students to take action to improve their school and neighborhood environment based on what they learn in the classroom.
PLT and Service-Learning
Service-learning is a powerful teaching method that engages students in meaningful service to their schools and communities through a process that is carefully integrated with learning objectives. It emphasizes critical thinking and problem solving, tackles challenges such as the environment and sustainability, and values the talents that people of all ages and abilities have to offer.
We encourage educators to take their students outside where they can learn about their environment and work to improve it. Through service-learning, the community action components of many activities, and their academic and personal involvement, students are taking responsibility for the environment.
Our GreenWorks! program provides grants up to $1,000 to schools and youth organizations to engage students with their local community and complete service-learning, environmental-improvement projects. Since 1992, PLT has helped fund around 1,000 GreenWorks! projects in communities across the country.
GreenWorks! has funded a variety of environmental service-learning projects including (but not limited to!): habitat restoration, watershed improvement, outdoor classrooms, recycling programs, and energy conservation.
A few successful projects include:
- In Selma, Alabama, 5th graders and gifted students became active participants in assisting Forest Service fire personnel in implementing and managing prescribed burns at Talladega National Forest. To determine when prescribed burns would be most favorable, students provided daily weather data to a dispatcher at the US Forest Service. The students' findings were included in US Forest Service press releases. Project partners: Talladega National Forest.
- Students at City Academy in Salt Lake City, UT (picture above) created their own biodiesel to help take them on field trips. Fifteen students in the green school committee and more than 30 other students at City Academy in Salt Lake City made over 250 gallons of fuel from used vegetable oil collected from a local restaurant. The school bus shuttled students to the nearby mountain, a green demonstration house, a local recycling facility, on dozens of field trips for various classes, and even to an environmental youth conference in Los Angeles.
- Elementary school students in Cavalier, North Dakota, created a tree-windbreak to lessen farmland erosion and pollution resulting from wind and snowdrifts. The trees also provided protection to businesses and roads on the outskirts of Cavalier and added beauty to an underdeveloped area. Project partners include: Neche Greenhouse and numerous city employees and community members.
- In Homer, Alaska, kindergarteners through 12th graders set up a recycling program at their school to collect materials from the village's 350 residents. Due to the school's remote location, collected materials are transported 30 miles each week to reach the Homer Baling Facility. Project partners: Homer Spit Campground, Ulmers Drugs and Hardware, Fritz Creek General Store, Home Run Oil, Homer Chapter of Alaska Youth for Environmental Action, Kachemak Bay Conservation Society, Voznesenka Parent Advisory Council.
Our GreenSchools! program is a nationwide program that inspires students to take personal responsibility for improving the environment at their school, at home, and in their community. Students, teachers, and school staff receive tools, training, and resources for student-led Green Teams to create healthier schools – and save money. PLT GreenSchools! helps improve students’ academic performance in science, technology, engineering, and math, develops students’ critical thinking skills, and grows student leaders.