June 16, 2017 3 min read

There’s nothing more hopeful and inspiring than seeing kids and young adults get excited about making a positive difference for their environment. After all, it is future generations who will experience the greatest impact of both deforestation and reforestation.

So when we received the following email from 9th grader Sophie in Oakland, California, in response to our Tree Ambassador Kit, we were re-energized in planning a school initiative you’ll hear more about in the fall.   

Here’s what Sophie said:

Hello! My name is Sophie, and to my right is my friend Wesley. In this picture we are standing in front of the first tree we have ever planted! We live in Oakland, California, and are both deeply passionate about protecting our environment. Sadly, Oakland’s air is extremely polluted due to our port, highways, and of course our shortage of trees. Air pollution causes many young children in Oakland, especially in the lower-income parts of Oakland, to develop dangerous lung and heart conditions. Unfortunately, this issue mostly affects children of color because they typically live in areas near more pollutants, causing them to miss school, and end up in the hospital due to pollution-related issues at a much higher rate.

Air pollution and its effects are very important to me because I do not believe that any child should have to suffer from the health problems that air pollution causes, and that’s why I decided I had to take action to stop it. I wanted to make a change in my own city that would benefit as many people as possible. To do so, my friend Wesley and I volunteered with the Sierra Club Tree Team in Oakland, which we heard about through one of our classmates.

Starting at 9am on Saturday, June 3, 2017, we met at a park in West Oakland with about 25 other people. We proceeded to plant trees all day in South Prescott Park, which is bordered by a heavily trafficked freeway. We chose this location to plant trees because we wanted to reduce the air pollution from the highway that enters surrounding neighborhoods and affects the children that live in them. All day we laughed, had snacks, and chatted with fellow volunteers, as we helped benefit our community. By the time the event was over Wesley and I had helped plant about thirty trees, and we planted two of them by ourselves!

Though we did not organize this event, we still wanted to share our story, and how amazingly fulfilling it was to help our community by helping to reduce air pollution. In the future I plan to participate in as many tree planting activities as I can, and to tell all my friends about how important and fulfilling it is to plant trees!

With a little hard work, and some soil, I know we can change the world for the better, one tree at a time!


Big thanks to Sophie and Wesley for sharing your story, and for doing all you can to help your community thrive. This just goes to show that you’re never too young or too old to do what you can, when you can, however you can to create a greener world.

Want to initiate your own tree-planting effort? Get our Tree Ambassador Kit!

Want to donate as little as $1 to plant a tree today? It only takes 30 seconds.