Family tree 1“In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.”  Baba Dioum

This summer the Delaware Highlands Conservancy launched the “Family Tree Series” of educational programs to help kids and families connect to nature—and to foster conversation about the future of their own family lands.

The “Boards to Birdhouses” workshop attendees, which included grandparents, parents and young children, took a walk in a local forest, learned how trees are selected and cut, and then watched a portable sawmill turn trees into boards. The landowner then guided attendees in building their own birdhouses to take home.

The mission of the Conservancy, and the definitions of things like conservation easements or working forests, can sometimes be challenging to apply to everyday life. But in the Family Tree workshop series, attendees get the complete picture of just how protected lands benefit the community, the types of jobs that working forests can create, and the many different ways of connecting to forestland, from bird-watching and hiking to sustainably harvesting and selling timber.

“I’m thrilled to be hosting a series of workshops where children of all ages can come and explore with their parents and grandparents and learn more about our local forest lands,” says Stewardship and Education Coordinator Amanda Subjin. “My husband and 3-year-old son participated in the workshops and have a clearer view of what comes from the forest and why it is so important to keep these lands undeveloped. At the Boards to Birdhouses event, it was exciting to see all the kids and their caregivers follow the path of the tree from forest to finished product.

When children have the opportunity to connect to and learn about nature—especially what they see in their own communities and backyards—they become responsible stewards of the land, which is a commitment that lasts a lifetime.

Family tree 2For adults, the series presents new ideas on how to manage their land, as well as options on how to support our local economy. And shopping local is easy. A dynamic, searchable website connects consumers to local providers of variety of wood products: from foresters and loggers to sawmills and local furniture makers.

Supporting local forest products businesses means supporting our locally sustainable forest economy, and it means the ability to sustain the forestlands we cherish. It assures that our valuable forests will be here for future generations, and that vital drinking water sources are protected for us and for everyone downstream–the Upper Delaware River provides water to over 15 million people. That water is filtered by the healthy forests that thrive here.

The Family Tree series fosters this sense of wonder and responsibility, connects kids and families to local conservation, and supports a sustainable future for the Upper Delaware River region.

To see the Conservancy’s schedule of upcoming events visit The Family Tree series workshops are supported by the Grey Towers Heritage Association.