RICHMOND, Va., April 22, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 44,000 students across six states will participate this spring in Project Plant It!, the educational program developed by Dominion Resources to teach third-grade students about trees and the environment. This represents a significant increase of 20 percent over enrollment in 2014, indicating that Project Plant It! continues to grow every year since it began in 2007.
"Project Plant It! is one of the many ways that Dominion seeks to partner with the communities we serve," said Jay Griles, manager of Distribution Forestry at Dominion. "We are especially excited about the contest to honor outstanding educators who, each year, bring science to life with Project Plant It! Teachers are so creative and we want to hear about the innovative ways they use the instructional materials and activities."
For the first time, all third-graders in Virginia Beach Public Schools are participating, adding almost 5,000 new students to Project Plant It! In addition, the program has taken root this year in school systems in Brunswick, Cumberland, Dinwiddie, Nottoway and Southampton counties in Virginia.
Now in its ninth year, Project Plant It! provides teachers with a variety of nature-based lesson plans and activities that highlight the beneficial impact of trees on the ecosystem. All of the instructional materials – including a teacher's guide with innovative lesson plans, posters, a website with educational videos and games, and more – support learning standards in STEM subjects such as math and science, while also sharpening skills in language arts and social studies.
Along with the classroom components of the free program, each participating student will receive a tree seedling, an Eastern Redbud, to plant at home in honor of Arbor Day. Project Plant It! is funded by Dominion Resources, parent company of Dominion Virginia Power, and supported through partnerships with the national Arbor Day Foundation and the Virginia Department of Forestry.
"Research has shown that authentic hands-on learning experiences have a tremendous positive impact on student achievement," said Joy Greene, E.A.G.L.E.S. Center Coordinator (Eastern Area Grounds for Learning Environmental Science) for Prince William County Schools' Office of Student Learning. "This program offers a unique cross-curricular approach to environmental education. In addition to collaborative science research projects, students have written stories and songs and created artwork about trees to boost proficiency in language arts."
Laura Marshall, a third-grade teacher at Grange Hall Elementary School in Chesterfield County, Va., added, "Through Project Plant It!, our students learn about the value of trees, including how they help to moderate climates, create clean air, provide homes for wildlife and prevent soil erosion. I have also found that the program encourages students to take initiative and be proactive about planting the redbud seedling with their families, inspiring them to improve the neighborhoods in their community."
New for 2015 is a contest to find "Nature's Greatest Educator"— awarding prizes to the teachers who most creatively incorporate Project Plant It! into the classroom curriculum. The grand prize winner will receive a trip for two for an exciting adventure at the Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, Neb., home of the national Arbor Day Foundation. Details about the contest and prizes can be found at www.ProjectPlantIt.com. Nominations will be accepted through Friday, May 1.
Dominion and members of its forestry team will be involved in tree-planting events in several states to help students celebrate Arbor Day, including the following locations:
- Niantic Center School, Niantic, Conn.
- Westfield Elementary School, Westfield, Pa.
- Oak Grove Elementary School, Richmond, Va.
- Appalachia Elementary School, Wise County, Va.
Since 2007, more than 300,000 tree seedlings have been distributed in the states where Dominion conducts business. According to the Virginia Department of Forestry, this equates to about 750 acres of new forest if all of the seedlings are planted and grow to maturity.
Dominion (NYSE: D) is one of the nation's largest producers and transporters of energy, with a portfolio of approximately 24,600 megawatts of generation, 12,200 miles of natural gas transmission, gathering and storage pipeline, and 6,455 miles of electric transmission lines. Dominion operates one of the nation's largest natural gas storage systems with 928 billion cubic feet of storage capacity and serves utility and retail energy customers in 13 states. For more information about Dominion, visit the company's website at www.dom.com/.