By Shannon Burke
The Fairview Net Zero Club discovered that you have to act quickly to take advantage of opportunities. It’s the key to our success.
In 2009, Boulder County announced it would give away trees from a bankrupt tree farm to local non-profits for the cost of digging and transporting. We figured it would cost about $100 per tree to hire professionals, but only $60 if we used Fairview students. We had to accomplish two things: get permission from the red-tape plagued Boulder Valley School District and Boulder County and raise money to plant the trees.
We discovered that if you push through red-tape successfully, the next time you need to get through it, it won’t be there. People want to be part of your success. We learned that thanking people who help you get through that red tape is important to make change happen.
We also learned that to get a big project done, you form alliances. Chances are, someone else wants to accomplish the same thing. In our case, the Fairview Parents Organization was a strong ally. Together, we created the “Adopt a Tree, Leave a Legacy” program. Parents would donate $60 for a tree and their student’s name would be on a plaque. We initially planned on planting 25 trees. But the program was so successful, we planted 59: 4 Apple, 6 Ash, and 49 Spruce and Austrian Pine. Because we raised $3,440, the parents did not have to spend the money they allotted for tree planting. We saved the FPO money AND were able to plant more trees! With other partners, we transported the trees and obtained other necessary supplies to plant them.
During the planting, we tried to include as many people as possible. There were about 150 students involved of whom 11 were Net Zero supervisors. The whole day was a lot of fun and it was cool being able to include people that we didn’t usually interact with.
Those trees are a legacy. We hope that the apples will be used for the Farm-to-Table Program. When the trees grow a lot taller, they will also make a wind shield so that freshman do not get blown away while walking to school in the intense South Boulder winds.
Besides planting 59 trees and involving 150 kids, we also, most importantly, proved that kids can do great things when given the opportunity.
About the author: After spending her summer working as a Senate page, Shannon Burke is a senior and AP Scholar at Fairview High School in Boulder, Colorado where she is active in the school’s environmental student group, The Net Zero Club. Shannon’s many accomplishments revolve around her interests in science, the environment, volunteering and public outreach.