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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Schools in Missouri, New York, and Oklahoma

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Schools in Missouri, New York, and Oklahoma
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Registered: July 2017
City/Town/Province: northport
Posts: 1
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Itís as Easy as Planting a Tree

You could say I first began volunteering when I was six months old and my mom took me to the local nursing home once a week as part of their ďSurrogate GrandchildĒ program. Although I had no say in it and I certainly donít remember it, I like to think it tripped a switch in my young brain that has stayed in the on position ever since.
Iíve walked dozens of miles and ridden my bicycle hundreds of miles for charity. Iíve donated my hair so other girls can have wigs and even shaved my head for the St. Baldrickís Foundation six times. Iíve spent my summers volunteering at a camp for kids with cancer and hosted a fundraiser for charity instead of having a bat mitzvah. But the one thing that endures, the one Iíve already trained my younger brothers to take over when I leave for college, the one I consider my legacy, is LemonAid.
It all began on my walk to elementary school each morning, when I would pass under my favorite cherry tree. I loved that tree. Iíd give bouquets of its flowers to my teachers and Iíd dance under the blizzard of its petals when it shed its pink coat. My family called it Sarahís Tree and from kindergarten to third grade it greeted me each morning and welcomed me home each afternoon.
But when I was eight years old it was cut down. One day it was there, and the next it was just gone. I was devastated.
I waited months for it to be replaced; but when I finally asked the Village when that would happen, they told me there was no money in the budget for it. Thatís when I noticed bare spots where other trees were missing. I decided the Village needed help.
Walking the length of Main Street, I recorded exactly where there used be trees and I petitioned the Village for permission to plant flowering cherry trees to replace them.
Then I set up a lemonade stand in front of my house on our annual festival day, called it LemonAid, and instead of marching in the parade with my school or going to the fair afterwards I sold lemonade for Main Streetís trees. The outpouring of generosity was immediate and overwhelming, and my philanthropic success was addicting.
Within a few years my LemonAid stand had become a fixture of Northport parades and festivals. But it wasnít enough and I redoubled my efforts Ė recruiting volunteers to join the crusade.
Working with Village merchants we placed jars at almost every cash register inviting customers to donate their spare change and ďHelp Ďchangeí the face of Main StreetĒ, the Pleasant Company donated an American Girl Doll for a raffle, we sold hot chocolate at the sledding hill on snowy days, and we made presentations to local organizations for support. And support us they did. With the help of the Northport community, LemonAid raised more than $4,000 Ė enough to plant all the Main Street trees and replace one that had died at my elementary school!
One of the proudest days of my young life, was the day I helped the Village Highway Department plant the very first of those trees.
But I couldnít stop there.
Once those trees were in place, LemonAid planted trees in Joplin, Missouri after an F5 tornado devastated that US Tree City and destroyed more than 50% of their trees; in Moore, Oklahoma where twenty-two trees donated by LemonAid memorialize the twenty-two people killed while sheltering from a tornado in an elementary school; in Oceanside and Long Beach on Long Island after Superstorm Sandy dumped salt water on trees not capable of surviving that flood; and back in Northport again where a grant from LemonAid helped a group of parents plant nine maple trees to separate the elementary school playing fields from the street.
But LemonAid hasnít only helped others. Itís made a huge difference in my life.
Iím incredibly shy. Debilitatingly shy, in fact. When I began LemonAid and had to deal with suppliers or municipal workers or donors or politicians, Iíd hide behind my motherís legs while she spoke for me. If she got something wrong, Iíd correct her from the safety of my hiding spot. Eventually, though, I realized that if I wanted things said exactly the way I envisioned them Iíd have to say them myself; and I forced myself to emerge and speak for my cause. As I was invited to speak to larger and larger groups, I worked at taming my shyness and when I delivered a speech to 600 people my mom actually cried. Iím certainly not cured, but Iím no longer imprisoned by my shyness. In that way LemonAid helped me as much as it helped anyone else.
No, I havenít saved the rainforest or raised a million dollars for charity; but residents of five cities breath cleaner air, sit in the shade, take a moment to enjoy the blossoms in the spring and the changing colors in the fall, their soil is richer and their lives are better all because one little girl had a lemonade stand. And in twenty years my children and their friends will be able to dance under the petals of the cherry trees I helped plant on Main Street.
Date: July 6, 2017 ∑ Views: 842 ∑ File size: 19.3kb, 1823.2kb: 2848 x 1602 ∑
Hours Volunteered: 200
Volunteers: 15
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 18 & 12 to 18
Native Trees Planted: 52+an unknown number in Joplin
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Registered: July 2017
City/Town/Province: Makurdi
Posts: 1
July 19, 2017 6:00pm

Motivating and inspiring