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updated: 8/15/2014 12:49 PM

Elgin High students join global movement to save trees

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Elgin High School students will join a global movement to educate people about the importance of saving trees and biodiversity Aug. 23.

Students will conduct ecological educational activities from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., including burning brush piles and dead ash trees and cleaning up the trail that runs along the roughly 40 acres of natural areas adjacent to the school. They also will tie red forestry tape on trees throughout the school property to raise awareness about their ecological impact.

"We're explaining to people the importance of trees and what purpose they serve toward planet change," said Deb Perryman, Elgin High environmental science teacher. "We'll be asking people to take a ribbon home to tie on their tree. It's such a simple, important message. Any school can do a red tape campaign in their school and in their community. It's a really cool message and a really cool movement."

The Red Tape Movement was started by Prabhat Misra in Etawah, a city in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. With the help of a local nongovernmental organization (NGO), Misra began planting trees and tying red tape on existing tree trunks in Indian villages to increase awareness about the dangers of deforestation and climate change. To date, movement volunteers have tied red tape on about 10,000 trees trunks with the help of Indian villagers.

Misra's hope was the movement would catch on globally. He was happy to learn that students at Elgin High School are spreading his message.

"Such types of movements can change the current society into environment-friendly society," he said in a Facebook interview. "Peoples' participation at a grass-roots level is a must for winning the war against climate change."

Perryman learned about the movement through Twitter and wanted to show support.

"I was just so moved by his story and what he's doing," Perryman said. "We're including it in the national biodiversity teach-in as one of our action items."

Elgin High's environmental students are organizing a national biodiversity teach-in Sept. 22 to 26 to mark the 100th death anniversary of Miss Martha, the last passenger pigeon on the planet, and to promote protecting biodiversity.

It will involve a series of webinars with national speakers on biodiversity topics, including protecting the Blanding's turtles, the impact of balloons and plastics on the oceans, the effect of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on biodiversity, the decline of monarch butterfly populations, shore birds and native plants.

Thus far, roughly 3,600 students from throughout the United States, Canada and United Kingdom have registered for the webinars. The goal is to reach 10,000 students, Perryman said.

"All of the webinars are linked to some kind of action that the class can take ... some projects they can do," Perryman said. "We want them to learn about it and maybe do something."

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