Archive for the ‘Trail of Trees’ Category

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Arbor Day is just around the corner! Each year, Georgia celebrates Arbor Day on the third Friday in February. During the week leading up to Arbor Day, the Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC) sponsors Trail of Trees performances by Tim Womick, the modern day Johnny Appleseed. Tim is a trained performer that has turned his passion for trees and life into an entertaining, inspiring, and informative performance on the benefits of trees. Tim interacts with audiences of all ages to relay the importance of trees in our everyday life and to encourage people to recognize their own roles as stewards of the earth. Using props that range from an African drum to tree seeds, Tim gets his message across in a humorous and insightful manner.

The Georgia Forestry Commission would like to offer interested schools and community groups an opportunity to host one of these Trail of Trees presentations. There is no cost to schools or groups. The presentations will take place between February 16th and February 21st, 2015. The preferred audience for these programs is fourth grade and up due to the length of the presentation (approximately 1 hour) and the amount of audience interaction. The average audience size ranges from 25 to 300 people. Generally, two to three performances will be scheduled per weekday and one on Saturday.

If your school or group is interested in hosting a presentation, please send the following information to Bonny Adams, badams@gfc.state.ga.us. Please indicate several alternative dates and times if possible. Requests will be filled first come-first served based on the tour’s schedule and routing.

• What school or organization is hosting the performance?
• Where will the performance take place? Please list the exact street address.
• What are the date and times you are requesting for the performance(s)?
• Who is the potential audience (e.g. 5th graders, high school students, families, adults, etc.)?
• Approximately, how many students/people will attend?
• Who should GFC contact about specific arrangements for the performance? Please list e-mail address and phone numbers.
• If different than the Local Contact,who should GFC contact to schedule the performance? Please list e-mail and phone.
• Media Coverage: Will there be any media coverage? (e.g. local media, school/group newsletter, etc.)
• Tree Planting: (optional)Will the school or organization be planting a tree after Tim’s presentation? If yes, please indicate the planting location (e.g. front of school, park entrance, outside of rec center, etc.)
• Please keep in mind that the school/organization must provide the tree and planting tools.
• Indicate any additional information that may relate to the Trail of Trees presentation (e.g. time constraints, other items on the program, etc.)

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by Tim Womick, Saturday, Feb. 22

Jefferson Arbor Day

Jefferson 2

“The greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add a useful plant to its country.” Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson is a town of about 10,000 in northeast Georgia that was named in his honor 207 years ago.

Elected officials, municipal employees, students and interested citizens gathered there today to celebrate Arbor Day by planting one of my favorite trees, the fan-shaped leafed Ginkgo biloba.

(In a June, 1791 letter to James Madison, Jefferson wrote,”I am sorry we did not bring with us some leaves of different plants which struck our attention, as it is the leaf which principally decides specific differences.”)

A deciduous conifer that matures to 100 feet tall, Ginkgoes date back to the time of the dinosaur and are a living link to our remote past.

Jefferson planted a Ginkgo tree at Monticello in 1807.

Because of their resemblance to maidenhair fern leaflets, Ginkgoes are often called maidenhair tree. The one we planted this morning (and ones available at most nurseries) are male (fruitless) because the female’s seeds ultimately produce a noxious, foul odor when they fall to the ground and split open. There are however many who prize their messy, fleshy goo for believed medicinal properties.

Standing beside the newly planted tree, the Jefferson Heritage Tree Council (JHTC) chairwoman and their mayor wrestled in the more than stiff breeze with the new Tree City USA flag the Georgia Forestry Commission’s Urban and Community Forester Joan Scales had just presented them.

As I looked at the leaf-bare Ginkgo imagining its golden fall foliage, the green and white flag clapped in the vigorous wind. I took a moment to soak-in the “family-like” atmosphere of the gregarious group which appeared to include about 8 decades.

The JHTB website states their mission clearly:

“To secure the many benefits of a healthy, diverse and expansive tree canopy for present and future generations of Jeffersonians.”

I feel a kinship to our third president.

I’ve planted a poplar at Jefferson’s Monticello…even personally delivered one from there to Washington’s Mount Vernon and dug a hole and planted it on the bank of the Potomac.

I’m acquainted with America’s foremost Jefferson impersonator. We met at Independence Park while planting a pure American Chestnut I’d help grow from seed.

That said, I feel very comfortable in unequivocally stating that Mr. Jefferson would be proud of the quaint town that bears his name. But I’m sure mostly, the framer of our Constitution would admire their dedication to being useful.

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by Tim Womick

Today’s (Wed., Feb. 19th) Georgia Arbor Day Tour 2014 audiences were as different as can be.

I could see Ebenezer Baptist Church from where I parked at the first school.

Later, east of Stone Mountain, I spoke with the Future Farmers of America at a middle school where it was “camo-day”.

Talk about one end to the other demographics.

It matters not whom I address my message is generally the same…Trees are wondrous things that supply us with an incredible array of resources we’d be hard-pressed to live without. (Often show vocabulary and subject approach differ vastly.)

At both schools they learned not only that trees clean impurities out of our air but that during a 24 hour period we inhale approximately 24 thousand breaths of oxygen.

They heard that cellulose is the most abundant organic material on the planet and it is used in many ways…from thickening the foods we eat and drink to being turned into fabric we wear.

Both groups shouted back to me “Radiant energy”, “chloroplasts”, “critical root zone”, “root hairs”, “water”, “essential elements” as we discussed photosynthesis.

They learned that it is OK to cut a tree down and that folks remove trees for many reasons… pests, construction and old age.

They also learned that the trees in the forests have their roles to play but the ones where we live…around our homes and schools, in our parks and outside of the places we worship in are all vital.

Some of the kids picked at each performance froze when they found themselves in front of the audience. Others exhibited natural performance skills and relished the attention.

Really, after all, the students at the two different schools were more alike than not. All lived in Georgia, attended public schools and loved to laugh.

I guess that’s the way it is all over the world, we’re more alike than not and we all need trees.

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by Tim Womick

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My Granny Hodges always loved the opportunity to smilingly say, “That sure was a long slide for a short climb”.

Today’s Georgia Arbor Day 2014 celebration at Atlanta’s Wesley International Academy was just that for more reasons than the 250 fourth graders in the studio audience.

The Georgia Forestry Commission teamed up with the state’s schools and presented a very special statewide webcast devoted to the many benefits and joys of trees.

Opening this first-of-a kind event was Governor Nathan Deal via a pre-recorded video who shared among other tree facts that, “Two out of three raindrops that fall in Georgia fall in forestland.” That’s a lot of trees!

State Forester Robert Farris, there in person, spoke from his heart about trees and Arbor Day’s history. (Folk in GA have been celebrating since 1890.) He also introduced me!

As always, the show’s rhythm was fast-paced and before the students knew it they were booing “particulate pollution” and applauding Georgia’s trees.

The big takeaway from this for students across Georgia was hearing about an incredible Artwork & Slogan Contest held by the Georgia Forestry Foundation to “express the value of our sustainable working forests and what they mean to you”. Two lucky entries 1-5th through 8th grade and 1-9th through 12th grade will be awarded prizes valued up to $35,000! ($15,000 cash goes to the school, $2,500 cash goes to student!)

Entry deadline is April 30 so get busy! Details at: http://www.forestry4rfuture.org

Winners’ artwork and slogan will appear on places like the sides of semi trailers, billboards and T-shirts. Get busy and see what kind of $35,000 “long slide for a short climb” being creative about Georgia’s sustainable working forests can be for you!

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On Thursday, February 20, Georgia students have an opportunity to experience a first-of-its kind event that will have them learning, laughing, and loving the natural resources around them like never before! The Georgia Forestry Commission is teaming up with the state’s schools on Georgia’s Arbor Day to present a very special webcast devoted to the many benefits and joys of trees.

Did you know that two out of every three raindrops that fall in Georgia fall on forestland? Or that Georgia forests provide billions of dollars’ worth of ecosystem services to our state with no direct costs? Those are just some of the facts that make our forests so spectacular and contribute to Georgia’s ranking as a national leader in forestry. They’re also great reasons to help kids understand the value of conserving our forestland.

The webcast on February 20, from 10:00 am to 11:15 am will feature “edu-tainer” Tim Womick and his “Trail of Trees” production. Womick is a trained performer who became captivated by the importance of trees on Earth Day, 1990. He has been engaging audiences ever since with his creative presentations focusing on the importance of trees and environmental stewardship. Children and adults alike rave about Womick’s message, and a special tree-planting ceremony is often held immediately following his performances. Your school also has the opportunity to schedule a Georgia Forestry Commission-hosted tree planting event following the webcast.
Interested? We thought so!

It’s easy to take part in this special event. Just RSVP to Wendy Burnett (email wburnett@gfc.state.ga.us) by February 12. We will then send you more detailed instructions, including the web address, to join the webcast and to schedule a tree-planting ceremony at your school.

Thank you for your consideration, and Happy Georgia Arbor Day!

RSVP Information
School Name:
Contact Person:
Email Address:
School Address:
Web Address:
Do you use social media? If so, which ones and how can we find you?
Would you like to schedule a tree planting at your school after the program?

By participating in GFC’s virtual Arbor Day celebration, you agree to allow GFC to invite your local county government officials, legislators and media to join you at the celebration.

GFC encourages you to use the hashtag #GAArborDay when posting about this event on your social media.

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by Tim Womick, Trail of Trees

Crammed in the small room in Forsyth this morning were about 60 third graders, a dozen or so local tree advocates , 3 TV cameramen,  2 uniformed members of the Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC) and 1 me! The energy was frenetic …

Remember, all these kids were still jacked-up on Valentine’s sugar & the excitement of this being their last day of school for a week. Before I knew it, the show was over and as I sat in their parking lot typing in the address of my north ATL gig, the TV folk were outside interviewing kids.  (Oh, how I wanted to hear their comments but fighting I-75 thru downtown on a Friday can be harrowing at best and I had no time to waste.)

Gathered around me was the Environmental Club of a Marietta elementary,  “When did folks start celebrating Arbor Day?” I asked, then added, “It was a long time ago.”

A second grader said, “1990!” The adults swallowed their chuckles.

An older student offered, “It was sometime in the 1600’s.”

“Nope, not quite that long ago.  It was 1872!  And, not only did folks start celebrating Arbor Day then, but also that year, several other important things occurred.  Who can tell me who Susan B. Anthony was?”

A tiny girl raised her hand and proclaimed, “She fought for women’s rights!”

“Wow, that’s correct.  Can anyone tell me more specifically what was going on then?”

“Women couldn’t vote then”, a smart lad added.

“Correct, again.  She fought for the right for women’s suffrage, the right for women to vote.  And,  in 1872 she was thrown in jail for simply trying to vote and today, February 15 just happens to be her birthday.”

“Also in 1872, a British scientist named Smith  first coined the phrase ‘Acid rain’  who can tell me what that’s about?”

A precocious fella started this ramble about by-products of energy production and usage that will probably take him to the university of his choice.

“You, too,  are correct! What was happening then was the Industrial Revolution was in full swing  and all those nasty chemicals coming out of smoke stacks there were deteriorating the facades of buildings and he wondered why.”

“Acid rain, women’s suffrage and  Arbor Day … 1872 was a powerful year. Even though I’m here to talk about trees, I want you to understand the power of human potential.  If Susan B. had not done her thing,   If Dr. Smith hadn’t conducted experiments & research, and if J. Sterling Morton hadn’t created Arbor Day, things wouldn’t be the same.”

The cold wind blew and they held on to my every word.

“Trees are important but people make things happen.”

I watched as the GFC’s Joe Burgess led them planting an 8 foot hornbeam and wondered who among them would fight for what’s right.  Which one would spend countless hours in research realms yet to be. And, which one would lead the world in loving trees.

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From Thursday, Feb. 14th by Tim Womick, Trail of Trees

I love the opportunity to do what I do. During the Georgia Arbor Tour 2013, I have audiences that total thousands of students.  Educating them about the wonder of trees is my mission.  Inspiring them to a life long love affair with trees is my personal goal.

Following today’s first show (as is often the case) I’m quickly surrounded by students peppering me with  questions.  I fielded quite a few of their queries before they we shepherded away to their regular  daily activities. As I was packing my carpetbag of tricks I felt a tug on the back of my shirt.  Turning around I found a tiny little angel who said, “I have a question.” The adorable girl wasted no time in asking me about a tree that was leaning over her house.  She was wondering how dangerous it was. I asked her how large it was and she made a circle with her arms that a basketball might fit in.  My next question was, “How close is it to your house?”

“Right on top of it.”

“Well you better get a professional arborist to come and check it out … It’s  not something you want just anybody to try and do.  Removing a large tree requires proper skills, appropriate equipment and liability insurance.  It’s all about the right person doing the right job.”

She gave me a confused stare.  I thought for a second and continued, “If you had a toothache, would you just let anyone start goofing around you mouth without the education and tools a dentist has?”

“No!” she exclaimed confidently.

“Well, it’s the same with trees, get it?”

“Now I do”.  Content, she turned on her heels and disappeared.

Nearby, a teacher had been listening.  She stated that up until recently, the little girl and her family had been living in a car and just moved into the house.  I asked if she knew a local arborist and said that one had just helped with their “Making the Shade” planting and she would contact him to see what he could do. Children shouldn’t live in cars but I’m thinking more than we realize do.

The last school was a tree party for sure but sometimes I get a vibe from teachers that is, well,  let’s just say my in-your-face rowdy mix of science and humor is a bit Unorthodox for old-school teachers. The show occurred in the gym and their “coach” was the typical crew cut, no-nonsense kinda guy.  When he saw me in my leaf covered shorts  accented with red flames, I just felt he wasn’t impressed. As I packed away my show, he came over to put away the audio system. I glanced over, smiling to make eye contact but he was having nothing to do with it. Resolved that I can’t please everybody, I continued packing.  Finally, shouldering my heavy bags and drum I started to take my leave. Deciding to leave well enough alone I walked toward the gym door in silence. “Hey, tree guy,” he said. (I held my breath.) “I want to tell you, that was phenomenal.”

I love the opportunity to do what I do.

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