Sternberg Park

Actress Glenn Close Joins New York Restoration Project, NYC Parks And NYC Department Of Education In Celebrating MillionTreesNYC Month With Inaugural Arbor Day Tree-mendous Challenge

Friday, April 24, 2009

Golden Globe and Emmy Award winning actress Glenn Close joined New York City Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, New York City Department of Education Chancellor Joel Klein, New York Restoration Project (NYRP) Executive Director Drew Becher, CEO of BNP Paribas, North America Everett Schenk, and more than 500 New York City public school students, corporate and community volunteers to celebrate Arbor Day today in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn at the first-ever Arbor Day Tree-mendous Challenge. The event was part of MillionTreesNYC Month presented by BNP Paribas, which coincides with the arrival of the spring planting season and the City’s efforts to raise public awareness for MillionTreesNYC, a cornerstone of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s PlaNYC vision to create a sustainable New York City.

“New Yorkers across the city are celebrating Arbor Day by planting and watering trees as part of MillionTreesNYC" said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. "Trees bring enormous environmental and public health benefits and make the city more livable. We ask all New Yorkers to register planted trees online at or call 311."

MillionTreesNYC is a joint initiative between the City of New York and New York Restoration Project (NYRP) through which one million new trees will be planted and cared for across the five boroughs by 2017. The 250 students who participated in today’s Arbor Day Tree-mendous Challenge have been participating in NYRP’s RespecTREE program and will join BNP Paribas employees and community members in planting more than 200 new trees on New York City Housing Authority developments in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn – adding to the 175,000 trees that have already been planted through MillionTreesNYC and bringing the initiative closer to its one million tree goal.

“Given that Mayor Bloomberg opened this week with a citywide call to service, it's altogether fitting that we're ending the week by taking time to plant trees with our public school students,” said Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein. “Through our partnership with the New York Restoration Project, the Department of Education is working to ensure that our public schools reap the educational and environmental benefits that stem from planting and caring for new trees. It's encouraging to see our students joining in the effort to make every school a greener and more beautiful place to learn.”

RespecTREE is a pilot program created by New York Restoration Project that was launched during the 2008-2009 academic year and integrates tree education into the New York City Department of Education’s 5th grade curriculum – with 10 schools participating in its pilot year. Current RespecTREE

students will graduate high school in 2017, the year that MillionTreesNYC is projected to reach its million-tree goal. Fifth grade students participating in the RespecTREE program are led by NYRP educators in a series of lessons and individual assignments throughout the course of the school year that empower them to create a greener schoolyard or playground at their school.

Since November, NYRP educators have led monthly educational sessions in participating classrooms, highlighting: the role New York City trees play in our urban ecosystem; the benefits trees provide New Yorkers and our communities; tree species identification and urban ecology; and the important role students can play in tree stewardship. The program culminates in a schoolyard planting day and celebration, and lessons for long-term tree care and maintenance. During the Arbor Day Tree-mendous Challenge, students demonstrated all they had learned in the RespecTREE program and helped educate volunteers on the basics of tree planting and stewardship in New York City.

“New York Restoration Project’s RespecTree program is proving to be an incredible tool for engaging students about the importance benefits trees provide our communities, New York City and the environment,” said Drew Becher, Executive Director of New York Restoration Project. “This innovative program is not only helping us reach our million-tree goal now, it is empowering students to be the City’s environmental leaders of tomorrow.”

Through a mix of public and private plantings, MillionTreesNYC community partners and citizen volunteers are planting in schoolyards, public housing sites, health care facilities, business districts, commercial and residential developments, front yards and other private lands. New Yorkers looking for ways to get involved in MillionTreesNYC can plant trees in their own backyards using the One in a Million Tree Coupon, generously supported by BNP Paribas, which offers $20 off the purchase of a 1-inch caliper or larger tree at 13 select New York City garden centers and nurseries throughout the five boroughs. Coupons are available online at, the MillionTreesNYC official website, or at participating nurseries. As a result of high participation in the program, New Yorkers across the five boroughs will share in the many benefits that come from planting trees in their yards; more beautiful neighborhoods, cleaner air and water, higher property values, energy savings, cooler summer streets and a healthier, more environmentally sustainable City.

“BNP Paribas is delighted to be part of the Arbor Day task force for the second consecutive year,” said Everett Schenk, CEO of BNP Paribas, North America. “Our employee volunteers are thrilled to have the opportunity to team up with other communities to plant trees and make New York a greener place to live and work.”

MillionTreesNYC is supported through the generosity of lead sponsors The Home Depot Foundation and Toyota as well as major donors David Rockefeller and Bloomberg Philanthropy. The MillionTreesNYC initiative is transforming New York City’s landscape and will expand the city’s urban forest by 20 percent. To achieve the initiative’s ambitious goal, MillionTreesNYC is asking all New Yorkers to dig in and get involved. By visiting, residents can learn how to join MillionTreesNYC, including:

· Be One In A Million! Take advantage of the One In A Million Tree Coupon Program.
· Dig in! Volunteer to plant trees on NYC public housing developments and in city parks.
· Fund It! Apply for The Home Depot Community Grant Program on behalf of your block association or community group.

· Keep It Growing! Water trees in your front or backyard or on your street.
· Adopt A Street Tree! Adopt a street tree or two in your neighborhood, regularly water it, and protect New York City’s trees from animal waste, hazardous materials and litter.
· Show Some TreeLC! Join the MillionTreesNYC Stewardship Corps, and take advantage of free tree care training and resources.

· Be Counted! Be “one in a million” by registering your newly planted trees.
· Scout It Out! Let Parks and NYRP know of tree planting opportunities in your neighborhood – especially those on publicly accessible property such as schoolyards, health centers or cultural institutions.
· Donate And Keep NYC Growing! Sponsor a tree and we’ll plant it in an under-resourced New York City neighborhood. During MillionTreesNYC Month, BNP Paribas will match individual donations - up to a total match of $25,000.


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