Project Plant It!

Published 10:57 am Friday, March 20, 2015

Third-graders examine the rings of a tree as part of Project Plant It! Rings represent the age of a tree. -- SUBMITTED

Third-graders examine the rings of a tree as part of Project Plant It! Rings represent the age of a tree. — SUBMITTED

More than 44,000 third-grade students in six states will be participating this April in Dominion’s Project Plant It! The environmental education program was developed by the energy company to educate children about the benefits of trees to the ecosystem — such as providing shade and oxygen, sheltering birds, insects and animals, and preventing soil erosion — as well as how they can help improve the environment.

“The children are very curious and fascinated by the plants,” said Dominion spokesman Paulin Cheatham.

Elementary schools in Connecticut, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia will participate in the program, which culminates in outdoor celebrations and tree-planting events on Arbor Day, Friday, April 24. This year, Southampton County Public Schools will participate in the program for the first time.

In January, schools involved in Project Plant It! received a comprehensive kit of instructional materials, including lesson plans, posters, videos, stickers and certificates. At the conclusion of the program, each student involved will take home a spring-flowering redbud tree seedling to plant. The educational materials and the tree seedlings are provided by Dominion at no cost to the schools.

According to Michael Aherron, area forester at the Virginia Department of Forestry, nearly 200 acres of new forests will be created if all 44,000 tree seedlings are planted and reach maturity.

Since Dominion created the program in 2007, Project Plant It! has distributed more than 200,000 tree seedlings to students. The program has been recognized by the Virginia Association of Science Teachers, and has earned Public Awareness of Trees Award from the Arbor Day Foundation.

This year’s program features a new opportunity for teachers, as well. Those who promote the program beyond Dominion’s expectations are eligible to be named an “Outstanding Teacher.” Each teacher recognized will be given a prize, and the grand prize winner will be awarded with a three-day, two-night trip to the Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, Nebraska.

For more information about Project Plant It!, visit There, parents can learn how to participate, while children can access videos and interactive games about trees.