May/June 2011


With the Spring semester coming to a close, it’s almost time to finish up another great year of Earthkeepers™, Sunship Earth™ and Sunship III™. Staff members are now visiting schools, and following up with students to continue the lessons started in the Outdoor Classroom. But just because it’s almost summer doesn’t mean the work is done here at the T.R.E.E. offices. We’re looking forward to a busy few months of planning next years programs, getting ready for our annual banquet, and unveiling a new website! If you’d like to keep T.R.E.E. in your lives this summer, please visit our volunteer page where you can learn about opportunities to ensure next year’s students will have as wonderful an experience as this year’s. — Firefly

This past academic year was another successful one for T.R.E.E.’s educational programs. Over 1600 participants from the Greater New Orleans area had the opportunity to step outside their classrooms to immerse themselves in the wonder and beauty found outdoors in one of three unique programs with T.R.E.E.

The EarthkeepersTM program is specially structured to introduce a class of eager and curious 4th graders to a multitude of fundamental concepts in the natural sciences. Through this year’s 22 sessions, over 1100 students, parent volunteers and teachers from were able to earn their keys as apprentice Earthkeepers. Many of this year’s participants shared the woods with an unexpected guest: a rooster! Students from a number of different schools spotted him following along on sensory walks and enjoying his time in nature.

In the 5th grade, students attend Sunship EarthTM, T.R.E.E.’s longest running program. This five-day overnight program finds students at the Outdoor Classroom on the Northshore, where students will not only cover an enormous volume of their science curriculum, but they’ll also build a tight-knit community and form memories that will last far beyond their program. This year over 240 students, along with their teachers and parent volunteers, attended 7 program sessions in the Fall. For many students, Sunship Earth was their first time in the woods, while for others it was a welcome reintroduction to the wonders they experienced as 4th graders at Earthkeepers. Observations of non-human passengers such as rabbits, spiders and lizards were common and provided constant highlights. 5th graders returned home abuzz with excitement for their experiences and determined to make positive changes in their own lives.

Our 7th grade program, Sunship IIITM, has a curriculum that revisits the concepts of Sunship Earth and builds upon the ideas of energy flow, cycles, interrelationships and change over time. Students spend three days discovering the ways in which they affect the environment, and in the process draw their own conclusions and make decisions based on these understandings. This year more than 270 students, teachers and parent volunteers experienced T.R.E.E.’s Sunship III program. Highlights included dining at Gino’s pizza parlor, attending an art opening and working in the cycle factory.

With so many students having attended these one-of-a-kind programs and coming away with so much knowledge and enthusiasm, the year was undoubtedly a successful one. This is in no small part due to the dedication of the teachers, school administrators, parents and volunteers who continue to see the immense value in making sure that students are able to participate in these programs. Along with a dedicated staff and, of course, the irreplaceable contributions brought by the students themselves, T.R.E.E. will continue to provide exceptional educational experiences for young people from all over the area.

To see these programs in local news media, visit our press gallery.


"Sunship Earth has been the most fun experience in my life. I wish I lived there, and when I grow up, hopefully I can work there." - Audubon 5th Grade Student

"The experience of being in an outside classroom is something that facilitates learning. Students were always excited and eager to participate in the learning concepts and activities." - Ms. Marcellino, 4th Grade Teacher, Phoenix School

"It was different, but exciting. It really makes you think about nature." -5th grade student

"It feels nice to hear the birds and feel like you’re on a journey all the time." - Lusher 7th grader


Earthkeepers Students Win Disney Planet Challenge

Metairie Academy’s 4th grade students and two of their teachers, Ms. Mona Herbert and Ms. Claudia Suazo, are Louisiana’s State Winner for this year’s Disney Planet Challenge!

Their project “I” am H.O.M.E. (Helping Out My Environment) included participation in EarthkeepersTM this past Fall. See photos and comments posted by students about the program.

Metairie Academy has attended T.R.E.E. programs for 7 years.

T.R.E.E. programs provide conceptual understandings of how the Earth’s life systems work, focusing on energy flow, change over time, interrelationships and cycling of materials.

We have observed these programs empowering students with the knowledge that their actions have an impact on these life systems. This gives them the ability to make their own conscious choices. Below are some reflections written by students that were submitted to the competition. Their words describe the experience better than we adults ever could!

“A memorable experience that I had is getting in touch with the Earth at Earthkeepers. I learned and understood that if we don’t act fast, almost all of our coastline will be eroded. Earthkeepers taught me that every irresponsible action has a consequence. We can do damage to the Earth and the ecosystem that can impact future generations. That is why my class has planted over 600 trees. We want to do something positive to help preserve the environment and homes. We can make a difference and change our future.”

“My experiences so far have been fantastic. Earthkeepers taught me that all living things on the earth are connected and that getting in touch with the Earth is a good feeling. I was amazed at how beautiful all the things in nature are. Sitting in my “magic spot” and clearing my mind of everything except sounds, smells, and feeling of nature helped me change my expectations for myself. I expect to take an active role in helping my wetlands and share this knowledge so more people get involved.”

“My most memorable experience during this project was when we connected with the Earth at Earthkeepers by writing in our journals. It was so much easier to reflect in the peaceful nature. Writing about our daily experiences in the outdoors made it almost impossible not to become sad about the possibility of losing our land. Doing projects like this helped me not only understand our goal of saving the environment, but felt sorry for it like I would a relative or a friend I want to help.”

At T.R.E.E. we emphasize the importance of reducing, reusing, and recycling at our Earthkeepers™, Sunship Earth™, and Sunship III™ programs and offer tips to students about ways they can help at home and around New Orleans. We know that everyone wants to do their part for the environment, but sometimes it is easier said than done. Energy and materials can be best conserved by reducing and reusing, but when those options aren’t available, what’s left can hopefully be recycled!

With the recent return of curb-side collection to many parts of the city, things are moving in a positive direction, however, some items remain difficult to recycle. Thankfully, there are a variety of businesses and organizations that provide a diverse array of recycling and repurposing options. Whether you are looking for a place to take those old bike tires, wanting to sign up for curb-side collection, or have some extra paint leftover from a recent DIY project, here are some things to consider when looking for ways to recycle around the city.

To submit a registration form for the city-wide program for curb-side pickup, or to see a full list of accepted items, visit the City of New Orleans website. The city also offers drop-off locations for any small or large items like furniture and appliances.

For an extensive overview of options in New Orleans, check out the New Orleans Public Library’s recycling guide and read on for details about how you can take advantage of your local resources.

For some parts of New Orleans, the city program does not yet apply. Fortunately, reliable curb-side pickup is also offered by several other companies, including Phoenix Recycling. Your paper, plastic, and aluminum, will be picked up at an interval of your choosing with several different residential and business packages available for a fee. Phoenix boasts an impressive 17 million pounds recycled since August 2007. If you prefer to drop-off your recyclables on your own schedule, Allied Waste, which also offers a curb-side program, has a collection center located in Metairie.

Whole Foods Markets offer free recycling of your plastics, aluminum, and papers – and they’ll even compost whatever that mysterious (biodegradable) leftover is that has been sitting in your plastic #5 container for the past few weeks! In conjunction with The Green Project, the Whole Foods on Magazine St., collects your extra paint and old computers on the first Saturday of the month.

Recycling bins are conveniently located at Target in Metairie and Harvey.

At The Green Project you can donate various building materials – from windows and doors to bathtubs and toilets – as long as everything is in reasonable condition. The Green Project also takes your leftover paint, aluminum, and paper products too! Target stores accept plastic, aluminum and glass drinking containers, as well as ink cartridges, cell phones, and other small electronics at their locations in Metairie and Harvey.

For those feeling more locally minded and want to ensure that old laptop or kitchen table finds a new home, check out Freecycle, a site that helps connect people nearby to give away their goods. Don’t assume that old bike that’s been hiding behind a pile of cobwebs and 2-by-4’s is for the scrap heap either! Plan B takes whatever parts they can use for their bike building workshops.

Here at the T.R.E.E. office, and at our program facilities, we help our city by doing the best we can to recycle and reuse whenever possible. If you have questions about recycling or ideas that you think might help others achieve their eco goals, please let us know and we would be happy to included your thoughts and comments in future newsletters!

Thanks to those who invested in giving 1600 children an amazing educational experience this past academic year!

To see a full list of both individual and business investors click here


I had seen a fish that jumped out of the water

Mother Nature’s little rhyme,
I closed my book, sat and listened
With my eyes closed tight
My ears ready to ‘glisten’
It was it’s own little orchestra outside in this place,
With the bird’s violin and trees singing,
I move swiftly side to side, perfect with harmony
as I Listen and Glisten with Mother Nature’s little rhyming
– 5th grade student


“Food is so good, food is so great,
especially the stuff that sunshine makes.”

– 7th grade student


The concept of making us responsible for our actions through our own desires and choices for this age is PERFECT - science activities were fun and educational.

parent chaperone





Lost TreasuresLost Treasures
a full academic year program taught weekly in the classroom for third grade and on into fourth grade
Earth KeepersEarthkeepers
a three-day Outdoor Classroom program for fourth grade
Sunship EarthSunship Earth
a five-day/four-night Outdoor Classroom residential program for fifth grade
Sunship 3Sunship III
a three-day/two-night Outdoor Classroom residential program for seventh grade