For more than a decade Steamboat Springs Middle School's Kidscape River and Trails Tree Planting project has succeeded one tree at a time.
The project has reaped educational and monetary dividends for the school, but never the type of recognition it received this year from a couple of state organizations.
On Friday, sixth-grade science teacher and Kidscape project coordinator Matt Tredway was presented the 2003 Colorado Tree Coalition CommuniTree Award in front of an assembly of eighth-graders at the middle school.
Colorado State Forest Service representative Ralph Campbell presented the award and thanked students for their efforts.
"You guys are the reason I'm here today," Campbell said. "We're really proud of the work you did, and we're really proud of Steamboat Springs Middle School being the first school to receive this award."
Campbell said the Colorado Tree Coalition's award committee made the middle school its unanimous pick for the award, which also was being considered for large Front Rage cities such as Denver and Aurora.
The Kidscape program began in 1991 as a way to involve sixth-grade students in a service and learning project while generating funds for a rock-climbing wall for the school, Tredway said. The program has thrived ever since.
"It was such a positive experience for the kids to sell the trees and be part of an environmental project that it really evolved into part of the curriculum," Tredway said.
Every spring the middle school purchases trees from a nursery and sells them in Steamboat. Sixth-graders are involved in every step of the project, from writing grant proposals to accounting and planting. The proceeds from the project have funded numerous things, including textbooks, athletic jerseys and scholarships for students to attend the Yampa Valley Science School.
Money made from last spring's tree sale purchased the new digital marquee that hangs outside the middle school, where parents waiting to pick up their children see a running display of school event schedules, the outside temperature and other school-related information.
More important than the money, Tredway said, is the more than 5,000 trees planted in and around Steamboat since the program began. Sixth-graders planted many of those trees, learning about them in the process.
"I can sit in class and tell them about root balls, or we can go out and learn it with our hands," Tredway said.
The program, as it has for the past 12 years, will continue this spring with another tree sale.
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