Tag Archives: planting trees

Allison & Cheryl Plant Trees at Rushubi & Nyange Schools

From Julie Ghrist

The days were perfect for a week of planting trees with 200 plus children. We packed our truck with seedlings, hoes, jerry cans of water and more and worked our way to schools located next to the park. Andrew Walmsley, an amazing photographer and friend, captured these wonderful pictures.

Planting trees at Art of Conservation 2013AoC student Innocent is ready to plant his seedling at the Rushubi School woodlot.

Cheryl Stockton helps plant trees at Rushubi School, Rwanda. Art of Conservation 2013AoC Board Member Cheryl Stockton and students.

Planting trees in Rwanda. Art of Conservation 2013Students plant trees in our established woodlots at schools located next to Volcanoes National Park.

Allison Hanes helps plant trees at Nyange School, Rwanda. Art of Conservation 2013AoC’s ED Allison Hanes with very happy children…. and gorilla.

The team, children, and I loved having Andrew, Allison, and Cheryl with us. Thank you guys!

For The Birds

From Julie Ghrist

We have spent many evenings and weekends recently painting birdhouses which were built at the AoC office. Because of limited classroom time our students didn’t get the opportunity to decorate the houses themselves, maybe next time.

Preparing a nice bird house. Art of Conservation 2013A student prepares a birdhouse by putting grasses inside.

This is truly an experiment! Birdhouses are nowhere to be seen in these parts of Northern Rwanda. My team and I think it’s a worthwhile experience nevertheless.

Hanging bird houses. Art of Conservation 2013Students look for perfect branches to hang their houses.

After lively discussions, we made our way outside to the school woodlots we’ve established over the years.

In the trees. Art of Conservation 2013With a GoPro on his head, a student reaches for more birdhouses from below.

A ladder was propped up against trees as well as a little climbing – whatever the mode of ascension – the school playgrounds and woodlots started looking so beautiful with the new houses.

Hanging bird houses. Art of Conservation 2013Little Lititia, in the foreground, is not an AoC student but seems to be with us always!

Tapping Into Splendid Imagination Before Planting Trees

From Julie Ghrist

In June, Allison and Cheryl (AoC’s ED and Board Member respectively) arrived from the US while photographer friend Andrew joined us in Rwanda from the UK. All travelers were willing and able to help the team in all ways possible. Our first afternoon together was at the office and included practicing our ‘becoming trees’ exercise. Cheryl practices movement with dedication so with Valerie the two were the most exquisitely inspirational teachers for this exercise.

Becoming trees at Art of Conservation 2013At the office, Valerie guides us in a creative exercise of imagining we are trees.

In the classroom, asked to find space in a rather crowded classroom Cheryl and Valerie guide the children in various stages of a tree. Beginning as a seed to imagining our toes are the roots and our skin the bark to our fingers leaves fluttering in the wind. Our arms are strong branches which monkeys, gorillas, and insects can move upon.

Becoming trees at Art of Conservation 2013Cheryl and Valerie inspire children to consider themselves as a seed in the ground to a grown tree.

Fully energized the children race out of the classroom to plant trees.

Fun lessons. Art of Conservation 2013Students bring along bat and monkey puppets, spiders, and more to plant trees.

The Beauty & Importance of Trees

By Eric and Innocent

Our students are committed to protecting the environment! We invite you to join us in Rushubi and Nyange schools’ woodlots where we are planting indigenous and agro-forestry trees to create animal habitat, prevent soil erosion, and add more beauty to an already beautiful place.

Cutting plastic containers.  Art of Conservation 2012The AoC team cuts off the plastic seedling containers and distributes trees to excited children.

Planting trees. Art of Conservation 2012A student looks for the perfect place to plant his tree.

Woodlot. Art of Conservation 2012Students place protective ‘cages’ around their young trees so that people and animals don’t trample them. They also add wildflowers!

Experiencing extremely large amounts of rainfall these days, we aim to continue building up this section of land with lots of trees to deter the sheets of water rushing down from the mountains heading directly to the village just beyond and below. A child from that village drowned in the flooding a few years ago.

Posting the sign. Art of Conservation 2012Teamwork abounds with digging holes, mixing cement, adding rocks, and mounting the Protect our Trees signs.

Protect our Trees signs are made and placed to remind the local community members walking along the paths not to trample on the seedlings with their feet or by their goats or cattle and to not uproot the trees while they plant Irish potatoes, beens, peas, or wheat.

It is very rewarding when we come together and strive for common goals and fun along the way. We reflect upon the teamwork amongst our students with great satisfaction.

More soon.

Becoming Trees

A report from Olivier.
“Before going outside to plant trees, let’s become trees inside.” Valerie announces to the children. Students scatter themselves around the room and follow more of Valerie’s direction by imagining their feet to be roots, their bodies the trunks of trees, their skin is rough like bark, arms become branches, and fingers flutter like leaves. They sway from wind and rain while forest animals hop (stuffed toy monkeys and a big plastic tarantula) from branch to branch.

Becoming trees. Art of Conservation 2012Students become trees before heading outside to plant trees.

Today’s sentence for attendance is, “People and animals need trees.” After saying this loudly and clearly children receive their seedlings.

Phocas & Olivier giving out seedlings.  Nyange School. Art of Conservation 2012Phocas hands out seedlings which he grew in our office garden.

We are trying something new this year by labeling seedlings with the names of our students. We want to encourage better care and monitoring from the kids.

Protecting your tree. Art of Conservation 2012Seedlings with labels.

Together we discuss the benefits of trees. Then we narrow down the many good reasons and identify three objectives for our particular school woodlots; creating animal habitat, soil erosion control, and beautification.

Lesson. Art of Conservation 2012With seedlings in hand, kids are ready to start planting.

In Preparation of Tree Planting

Hi dear readers! This is Olivier. One of many practical conservation activities that AoC does with its students is the planting of trees and shrubs to enhance the natural environment outside of the park. We give our students seedlings to plant during the long rainy season – February through May – so next week is time to plant! In preparation, children familiarize themselves with a variety of trees. They are excited with these activities.

A student examines a visual with leaves of Casuarina equisetifolia which is known in our local language as umushishi, a very important wind breaker.

Before planting, we first plan the types of trees and location. Over the years we have been gathering information by asking many people and specialists for advice on which species are appropriate for different soil conditions; it is a waste of time to plant trees in unsuitable conditions. We also think about proper spacing, site preparation, and tending. This year, AoC students will plant Calliandra calothylsusa, Casuarina equisetifolia (umushishi), Markhamia lutea (umusave), and Spathodea campanulata or African Tulip Tree. The most interesting thing is that we have all the seeds in our possession. We bought many seeds from RAB (Rwandan Agriculture Board).

We plant a variety of indigenous and agro-forestry species.

At the AoC office, we have seedling beds that Phocas, an AoC team member, prepares and takes care of. The umulinzi tree is a famous indigenous tree in Rwanda because it is attributed to cultural beliefs so planting and growing this tree has become one of our objectives.

Phocas and Umulinzi, Julie’s dog, (meaning the protector in Kinyarwanda), take care of a young umulinzi tree in our garden. Also more visuals of umulinzi leaves and flowers are seen above.

Let’s go back to our classroom with our students. After our discussions, the art activity begins. With pencils, children draw leaves using cutouts and paint them with cool colors on grid paper. After that, they paint the background with warm colors. Look, one can recognize the tree by looking at children’s art works!

The leaves of umulinzi, umusave and African Tulip Tree are illustrated.

Meet you at tree planting sites next week with 200 AoC students. Bye!


Great Opportunity to Speak With Environmental Club at College Baptiste St Sylvestre

Hi. Valerie here. You last heard from me when I reported on the PASA Education Workshop in Uganda which I attended. Today I’m reporting on my wonderful time I had at College Baptiste St Sylvestre (C.B.S.), a secondary school located in the Nyange Sector of Musanze District. On behalf of its environmental club members, the school invited Art of Conservation to speak with the students. With great pleasure, Julie, Mary Burns, an AoC board member, and I accepted the invitation. The school’s students believe in Art of Conservation’s environmental care and protection and wanted to learn more about what we do!

Valerie and Julie speaking to secondary students - Nyange Sector.  Rwanda 2011Julie, with me translating, shares her experience in environmental care and protection at the school hall.

These secondary students were so enthusiastic as Julie spoke in English and I translated and Mary took photographs. Julie encouraged the students to be role models in conservation so that their younger brothers and sisters can refer to them. They were like.. yes.. yes…!

Mary with environmental club member planting trees. AoC 2011.Mary Burns, an AoC board member, with Ntirenganya of College Baptiste St Sylvestre’s environmental club are ready to plant a tree!

The students, especially the environmental club members, appreciated Julie’s ideas and advice in becoming great conservationists and agreed with her when she suggested to them to do a lot of research about which tree species to plant during their tree planting activities. She always encourages planting indigenous species instead of eucalyptus, depending upon ones objectives of course. For example eucalyptus is everywhere and it takes lots of nutrients from the soil robbing native species. It was funny though because when we were asked to go outside to plant trees next to the school we planted what they offered and it was eucalyptus! For them, planting these eucalyptus seedlings was a gesture of showing that they care for the environment and they know that planting trees play an important role in soil erosion prevention, attracting rain, and air purification.

Environmental Club's drama.  AoC 2011.College Baptiste St Sylvestre Environmental Club members present drama, dancing, and singing with conservation messages.

The club members had prepared poems, songs, dances, and drama that were full of strong messages about conservation and environmental protection and which made every one laugh with delight. Through their acting they showed the importance of trees, consequences of poaching, and being rewarded for taking care of our natural resources. All of their games pleased and inspired the audience. I felt like I could be part of the club and stay with them. Their drama reminded me of my childhood! It were so nice to watch!

The event was a great opportunity to see what environmental clubs are doing. Mary, Julie and I learned from them and they did from us. They’ve requested partnership from AoC which we hope will be beneficial and strong! It was a great and enjoyable day!

People & Animals Need Trees. A Video.

Scenes from our recent tree planting.
The song, Sow A Little, is by Kaiser Cartel for AoC.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/NG6KaET9CIM" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]Planting Trees.

Planting Trees: 4

We’ve come to our last group of children to put trees in the ground for this week. We will continue planting trees and flowers throughout the year, but this week was a concentrated effort to get all our students involved and understanding the importance of trees.

Tree planting at Nyange School.  AoC 2011.Angelique holds a seedling ready to be planted in the nearby woodlot.

Hirwa and Eusebe planting trees. AoC 2011.AoC’s Eusebe helps Hirwa with his seedling.

After planting trees. AoC 2011.It’s all thumbs up for today’s activities.

Planting Trees: 3

Every Monday and Tuesday we teach at Rushubi School. And every Wednesday and Thursday at Nyange. Today, at Nyange, Valerie discusses with our students the many reasons why people and animals need trees.

Valerie with lesson before planting trees.  AoC 2011.Valerie holds a seedling that is ready to be planted in the school’s woodlot.

If you take a look at the photo below, this is the woodlot before the children planted trees last year.

How the woodlot looked last year before planting.  AoC 2011School woodlot before planting trees last year.

The photo below is the woodlot today. Agro-forestry and indigenous species are thriving.

How it looks today.  AoC 2011.The same woodlot one year later.