Doing Good Together April 2006 Newsletter

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Doing Good Together Newsletter )
Helping strengthen kids and communities through family volunteerism... April 2006
in this issue
  • Celebrate Arbor Day Together
  • Open Your Eyes to Nature
  • Fact
  • One Family's Story
  • News From DGT
  • Earth Day is April 22, and Arbor Day follows soon after. This is the perfect time to focus your children on environmental stewardship. Take your child outside and have them get their hands wet and their feet dirty. Turn over leaves, examine bugs, find interesting rocks and plant seeds. It’s fine to read books about nature, but get out and experience it, too. Kids will come to truly appreciate the intricate beauty of the planet they need to protect.

    Jenny Friedman, Executive Director

    Celebrate Arbor Day Together
    arbor day

    Make a Difference... Trees make shade, conserve energy, increase property value, absorb noise, produce oxygen, prevent soil erosion -- and they’re beautiful besides! Arbor Day was established to encourage tree planting and care. It is often celebrated the last Friday in April, but many states observe Arbor Day on different dates according to their best tree-planting times.

    Photo: Arbor Day Foundation

    Open Your Eyes to Nature

    Talk About It ...Some educators believe that the best way to be certain our children become attuned to critical environmental issues is simply to get them to fall in love with nature. Of course this requires more than talk. Get outside, have fun – and then have conversations about what you’ve experienced.

    • Go on a hike and use all of your senses to notice and appreciate nature – smelling the grass, hugging a tree and counting the birds.
    • Hunt for bugs with a small jar. Look under leaves and on tree trunks and flowers. Be gentle when picking up the bugs and release them after you’re done with your observations. (
    • Discover the amazing color in nature. Get 10 old paint swatches of various natural colors from a paint store and take them with you on a hike. Then have your child look for each color in nature. (
    Learn About It ...Read The Lorax by Dr. Seuss to get a conversation started about how mindless progress endangers our natural environment. For other books and websites that educate kids about environmental issues, visit our resource page. And to find more suggestions for books that inspire compassion and community responsibility, visit our complete resource list.


    There are about 60 million to 200 million spaces along our city streets where trees could be planted. This translates into the potential to absorb 33 million more tons of CO2 every year, which would save $4 billion in energy costs. How? Trees provide shade in the summer (reducing the need for air conditioning) and a windbreak in the winter (reducing the need for heat).

    National Wildlife Federation

    One Family's Story
    Jordan Bascom and other volunteers

    Every year, volunteers meet at the Three Rivers Park District in Minnesota to harvest prairie seeds, which are then used for prairie restoration and enhancement projects in our park reserves. When Julie Bascom suggested that her family might spend one afternoon helping out, the response was less than enthusiastic. “Service is your thing, not mine,” moaned her daughter, Jordan, then 13.

    Not to be deterred, Julie convinced her husband and three children to head to Crow-Hassan Park and give the project a try. Fortunately, the fall day was beautiful – sunny, breezy and warm. Along with a couple of other families, the Bascoms pulled seeds from native plants and filled their bags. The group leader explained that the seeds would be dried, cleaned and replanted to ensure that native vegetation continues to regenerate. It is a process, she added, that takes many hands.

    For Julie, the simple task was surprisingly fun and meditative—and took her back to her farming roots. Other family members found their own reasons for enjoyment. Daughter Jordan, who had brought along a friend to help, thrived on the socializing and the methodical, precise nature of the work, while 10-year- old John Robert was thrilled to be outside, run around and prove that he could fill his bag most quickly.

    Julie’s bag of snacks helped make the outing a success, as did the fact that everyone could immediately see the results of their hard work. Julie has always felt that family service is critical to raising compassionate, socially aware children, and she believes that environmental stewardship is an integral part of that. “I want my kids to understand and appreciate our environment and our world,” she says. “You could just feel that process happening out there on the prairie. We will never forget it.”

    Photo: Jordan Bascom and other volunteers at Crow-Hassan Park

    News From DGT

    As you may know, Doing Good Together offers workshops on family volunteering for parents and grandparents. But did you know we also offer a presentation called “Raising Compassionate Children: 10 Steps to Growing a Caring Child”? This presentation is especially appropriate for parents of young children and provides tips for raising warm, curious children who understand the joy of compassion and service. For more information about how to bring our workshops to your faith community, school, business or parents group, visit our website or contact us by phone or email.

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