Mulching Trees, Feeding Minds

In the shadow of the hustle and bustle of the old Hollywood Park Casino ground’s transformation into the Los Angeles Rams’ new stadium sits Environmental Charter Middle School – Inglewood.

The school, located at the site of a former church, recently finished stage one of a three-stage retrofit to bring new learning opportunities to its students. The new two-story building made of recycled shipping containers offers 10 new classrooms and a replica creek bed lined with native trees and flowers stretching across the front of the property.

To help the students learn how to tend to their new surroundings, TreePeople’s Michael Wootten and Michelle Bagnato came armed with dozens of buckets of mulch at the school’s annual Harvest Festival to lead students and volunteers in caring for 55 trees.

“Caring for trees makes you feel one with nature,” said Eric Clark, a student at nearby Da Vinci High School in Hawthorne, as he spent his morning tending to several trees across the schoolyard. “This is unique. I wish I saw this kind of thing more at other schools.”

The excitement at this year’s Harvest Festival wasn’t limited to trees. Students and community members at the school were treated to a morning of games and interactive learning labs, all designed to boost environmental literacy. There was even a petting zoo, complete with rabbits, ducklings, and two baby goats. As the activities came to a close, attendees gathered in the shadow of the new classrooms to enjoy a healthy lunch, which included a tender kale salad made with fresh vegetables harvested from the school’s own garden.

“These new improvements on campus give our students the tools they need to share what they learn with their community. They now have an actual model of what sustainable development in an urban setting looks like,” Tashanda Giles, a teacher and green ambassador at ECMS-I said. “It’s super helpful to have an organization like TreePeople that focuses on what we need in Southern California.”

With two more stages of campus upgrades left to come, both ECMS-I and TreePeople will continue to work together to provide students with the knowledge they need to thrive in the fight for sustainability and climate readiness.

Want to learn more about our Environmental Education team? Watch this video to see how TreePeople inspires students and teachers to #ActOnClimate.

As staff photographer and videographer, Adam brings a decade long passion in telling people’s stories to TreePeople. From the joy of a tree planting to the behind the scenes efforts of our policy advocacy and restoration work, Adam captures it through his lens so it can be shared with the world. When he’s not behind the camera, he can most likely be found curled up with his cat Kinsella.