Magazine article American Forests

From Silly Putty to Sycamores: With Creative and Forward Thinking 8-Year-Olds like This One, the Future for the Environmental Community Looks Bright

Magazine article American Forests

From Silly Putty to Sycamores: With Creative and Forward Thinking 8-Year-Olds like This One, the Future for the Environmental Community Looks Bright

Article excerpt

At an age when most children's concerns revolve around cartoons and video games, an 8-year-old girl has used a clever idea and a healthy dose of determination to plant trees in an effort to fight global warming.

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Some might dismiss this change-the-world attitude as childlike innocence, but Sydney Gang's accomplishments prove them wrong. This second-grader raised hundreds of dollars to donate to AMERICAN FORESTSS' Global ReLeaf program, planting hundreds of trees where they are badly needed, such as forests burned by wildfires in California, drowned parks and historic trees in New Orleans, and the polluted Chesapeake Bay.

Sydney lists the National Geographic film Arctic Tale among her inspirations for this venture. The nature narrative follows the story and struggles of a polar bear and a walrus pup in the rapidly changing Arctic, and the effects of global warming on that habitat. Moved by the plight of these animals, Sydney decided to get involved. The film concludes with different suggestions on how to combat global warming and make a difference to the planet. The suggestion that stood out to Sydney? "Plant trees!"

The path that led Sydney to AMERICAN FORESTS started with Oprah Winfrey. Watching Oprah's "Going Green 101" episode with her mother and grandmother, Sydney was fascinated. The episode discussed global warming, carbon emissions, and different ways families can make a difference.

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Oprah also mentioned many organizations that promote this cause, including AMERICAN FORESTS, After the show, Sydney's mother Theresa found a link to American Forests on the Oprah website. Sydney learned from the website that AMERICAN FORESTS plants a tree for every dollar it receives, and was drawn to it right away. Even at her age, Sydney understands the significance of trees, which she says we need because they "give shade, oxygen, and are very pretty."

Sydney wasted no time waiting for an opportunity to appear. Instead, she jumped immediately on an inspiration from one of her favorite toys. Along with her 5-year-old sister Camryn, Sydney found the recipe for Silly Putty on the Internet and decided to turn it into a fundraiser. She broke into her piggy bank funds to buy the supplies they would need, and soon the two girls had made several batches of the stretchy stuff, divided it into pieces and placed it in plastic eggs.

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Sydney began her efforts with the next Parent Teacher Organization event at her school. With the help of her friend Payton Van Pelt, Sydney set up a booth at Family Fun Night at South Davis Elementary in New York state to sell the Silly Putty. The eggs went for $2 each, all proceeds going to the AMERICAN FORESTS' Global ReLeaf program. Sydney made $144 that night, to which the PTO donated an additional $100. But the work didn't stop there.

With her mother's help, Sydney also brought her cause to her Brownie Troop 674. Each of the 12 girls brought in $5, which they raised by doing chores at home. The troop also donated $40 from its own funds, bringing the Brownies' contribution to $100, and Sydney's total up to $344.

Sydney donated this to the AMERICAN FORESTS Global ReLeaf program, turning her hard work into 344 trees planted in areas around the world that are in need of reforestation. AMERICAN FORESTS' Historic Tree Nursery will also donate one Moon Sycamore tree each for Sydney, the South Davis Elementary PTO, and Sydney's Girl Scout Troop 674. The trees will be planted at South Davis Elementary this coming fall, in commendation of the large contribution that Sydney raised from her community. …

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