Some 20 grants, amounting to a maximum of $1,000 each, are available for Maine schools through funding from the USDA Forest Service-Urban and Community Forestry Program and corporate sponsors, according to Jan Ames Santerre, Project Canopy director.
“Every year during the third full week of May, students and adults join together and celebrate one of Maine’s most valuable natural resources – our trees and forests,” said Santerre. “Trees help cleanse the air we breathe and the water we drink, while beautifying the communities where we live. Maine schoolchildren can learn important lessons about value of our forestland and make significant connections to our ecology through the simple act of planting trees at their own schools and watching them grow.”
Maine’s forest industry has a $10 billion impact on Maine’s economy and employs more than 20,000 Mainers. Green-industry jobs account for an additional 8,000 jobs in Maine, and that number is growing. Tree care, nursery and sod growers, landscape architecture and landscape design and installation are among the fastest-growing sectors of the nation’s agricultural economy, experiencing growth even during recessionary periods.
The Project Canopy grant funding can be used to purchase and plant one tree or several trees of the school’s choice. The plantings can be dedicated to Arbor Week or to an individual who is significant to the school. The school projects will be acknowledged as part of the Maine Forest Service’s annual Arbor Week celebration, May 16-20. Schools can apply for the grants by completing an application form available through Project Canopy. The application deadline is 5 p.m., Friday, April 29.
Maine Forest Service staff, including MFS district foresters, is available to participate in educational programming for each school, Santerre said.
Corporate sponsors for the grants are: Evergreen Credit Union, Portland; Androscoggin Bank, Lewiston; and Central Maine Power, Augusta.
The grants are being offered this year to replace the annual poster contest sponsored in past years by Project Canopy and administered nationally by the Arbor Day Foundation, Santerre said. The foundation has chosen not to hold the poster contest and instead is “refocusing on more direct educational programming in schools,” she said.
The annual Arbor Week celebration will be held Monday, May 16, at the Maine State Library, Augusta, and participating schools will be invited to attend, Santerre said.
During the celebration program, the Maine Forest Service also will recognize Maine’s 17 “Tree City USA” communities. Those communities participate in the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA program, which provides direction, technical assistance, public attention, and national recognition for urban and community forestry programs in municipalities throughout the U.S.
The MFS also will announce the recipient of the 2011 Frank Knight Community Forestry Excellence Award, named in honor of Frank Knight, 102-year-old former Yarmouth tree warden and guardian of “Herbie,” the iconic Yarmouth elm tree. Last year’s recipient of the award was Deb Hopkins, Yarmouth tree warden.
For more information about the school grants, contact Jan Ames Santerre, Project Canopy director, at: (207) 287-4987 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For a grant application online, go to: http://www.maine.gov/doc/mfs/projectcanopy/pages/resource/grants/2011/2011_school_planting_application.pdf
For more information about Project Canopy, go to: http://projectcanopy.maine.gov .
For more information about Tree City USA program, go to: http://www.arborday.org/programs/treeCityUSA/