Students Branching Out

Stu­dents Branch­ing Out engages Howard County stu­dents in local tree plant­ing efforts. Stu­dents have par­tic­ipated in tree plant­ing vol­un­teer days and field trips, planted trees on school prop­erty, and pro­moted exist­ing County tree plant­ing pro­grams. Over 6,500 trees have been planted with thousands of students so far!

Stu­dents Branch­ing Out was originally funded by Mary­land DNR’s Chesa­peake and Coastal Bays pro­gram with sup­port from Howard County Gov­ern­ment. Howard County Recre­ation and Parks orga­nizes the tree plant­ing projects with help from the Office of Com­mu­nity Sus­tain­abil­ity and the Howard County Public School System.

Here is a video about the Howard County project and its suc­cesses from 2013–2015.

Since the grant ended in 2015, Howard County government has continued the program with funding from the stormwater management fee. Students Branching Out is now part of regular county operations, organizing school-based tree planting projects each spring and fall.

School Prop­er­ties

Stu­dents Branch­ing Out pro­vides tree plant­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties on school prop­er­ties so that we increase our tree canopy but also provide a meaningful, hands-on educational experience. Classroom instruction is paired with the tree planting, including learning about the native tree species, tree benefits, and how to properly plant a tree.

So far, over 3,000 stu­dents have planted trees on school grounds! The schools that have been part of the project are:

  • Glen­wood MS/Bushy Park ES (fall 2013) – 1,450 trees
  • Bon­nie Branch MS/Ilchester ES (spring 2014) – 335 trees
  • Dun­logg­gin MS/Northfield ES (spring 2014) – 420 trees
  • Folly Quar­ter MS (fall 2014) – 384 trees
  • Lis­bon ES (fall 2014) – 480 trees
  • Harpers Choice MS (fall 2014) – 446 trees
  • Pat­ap­sco MS (spring 2015) – 280 trees
  • Water­loo ES (spring 2015) – 122 trees
  • Res­ur­rec­tion St. Paul School (spring 2015) – 62 trees
  • Mount View MS (spring 2015) – 150 trees
  • Howard High School (fall 2015) – 150 trees
  • Bel­lows Springs ES (fall 2015) – 50 trees
  • Hol­li­field Sta­tion ES (fall 2016) – 150 trees
  • Our Lady of Per­pet­ual Help (fall 2017) – 50 trees
  • Mount Hebron HS (spring 2018) – 75 trees
  • Mayfield Woods MS (fall 2018) – 170 trees
  • Oakland Mills HS (fall 2018) – 50 trees
  • Mount View MS (fall 2019) – 150 trees
  • Centennial HS (spring 2020) – 75 trees
  • Running Brook ES (spring 2022) – 38 trees
  • Patuxent Valley MS (spring 2022) – 62 trees
  • Phelps Luck ES (fall 2022) – 20 trees
  • Long Reach HS (fall 2022) – 20 trees
  • Lime Kiln MS (spring 2023) – 24 trees
  • Elkridge Landing MS (spring 2023) – 80 trees
  • Howard HS (spring 2023) – 20 trees
  • Glenelg HS (fall 2023) – 20 trees
  • Guilford Park HS (fall 2023) – 100 trees
  • Dayton Oaks ES (spring 2024) – 70 trees

County Park Land

Howard County forests, includ­ing stream buffers, are fac­ing a threat from an insect called the Emer­ald Ash Borer. To get ahead of this prob­lem, Howard County’s Nat­ural Resources Divi­sion assessed the ash forests using GIS map­ping. In Stu­dents Branch­ing Out, vol­un­teers and pro­fes­sion­als planted forested stream buffers with a diverse blend of native under­story trees so that if the ash trees are destroyed, there will be new and healthy trees to pro­tect the streams.

The first County land planted by vol­un­teers was Rock­burn Park in Elli­cott City. Stu­dents and other vol­un­teers planted trees there in the spring of 2013 and 2014. Dun­log­gin Middle School, St. Paul’s Res­ur­rec­tion School, and Oak­land Mills Mid­dle School all had tree plant­ing field trips to the site. Over 400 stu­dents participated.

During the original grant-funded part of the project, Howard County’s Recre­ation and Parks also held tree plant­ing vol­un­teer days at Alpha Ridge Park (2013 and 2014), Ham­mond Park (2014) and West Friend­ship Park (2105). Vol­un­teers planted 800 trees at these sites. Since then, Recreation and Parks has continued to hold volunteer planting projects including the annual Earth Day with Recreation and Parks (spring) and Family Volunteer Day (fall).

Get Involved

Please con­tact Elissa Rei­neck if you are inter­ested in Stu­dents Branch­ing Out.