Feb. 6, 2012 – Jasper and Putnam County, Georgia, elementary students got their hands dirty last week, Feb. 1-3, 2012, as they participated in day-long tree planting events at their schools. The events were sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service and financial sponsor for the Kids4Trees 2012 Olympian planting program, Sustainable Growth Group (www.sustainablegrowthgroup.com). 

As part of Kids4Trees, students at Putnam County Elementary, Jasper County Primary and Washington Park Elementary learned more about their forests through presentations on wildlife, law enforcement, prescribed fire and forestry. Bryan Jacobs, an inspiring two time Olympic weightlifter, was among three Olympians who visited with students to share their stories. Wednesday saw gold medal winner Mel Pender and Thursday gold medal winner Kevin Young. After learning what it takes to help both trees and young spirits thrive, the students planted trees at their schools and potted their own small trees to take home.

Kids4Trees, a national nonprofit 501c3 organization in partnership with the Forest Service and the World Olympians Association, links students ages 6-12 with Forest Service professionals, volunteers and Olympic athletes to encourage them to become good stewards of their forests. This was the first Kids4Trees event held in Georgia, and is the first of 11 national sites planned across the nation for 2012.

“The Olympians Association has a commitment to protecting the environment, and of course the Olympics has always been about inspiring youth,” said Jacobs. “This event gives these future leaders an opportunity to learn more about the role that forests play in global sustainability, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

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