I was pretty excited that to find out that this year, I (Jenna) would be the intern in charge of the Film Festival’s involvement with TreeFight.org and the local students at Bronc Prep. TreeFight, a Jackson based organization, seeks to “protect, replant, and monitor whitebark pine – an American forest in flux – and create art and education from our experiences.” I was actually sort of familiar with TreeFight and their mission, but still had no expectations for what the collaboration with the Film Festival might result in.
Fortunately, it involved the random assortment of things I find myself to enjoy above all else: talking to kids, telling riddles on hikes, being outside, and art.
The day began in the Village. We took the tram up to the top – it was a gorgeous day, virtually cloudless and hardly windy. Many of the kids at Bronc Prep had never taken the tram, which made the swings at Tower 4 a real riot as many erupted in hoots and howls.
Though the day revolved around teaching the kids about Whitebark Pine, ecosystems, pheromones, and pine beetles, I feel like I learned just as much as they did. I knew about the pine beetle epidemic, but didn’t realize there were active things I could be doing to save the ecosystem I value so much. Our job for the day was to identify Whitebark Pines and staple pheromone packets to the trees in an effort to ward off the pine beetles, which are endangering the trees’ existence. The kids were really into the industrial sized staplers and – for the most part – I think they enjoyed walking around the mountain. Who could get sick of the view.
Getting outside and escaping the office, school, or the confines of our daily routines is so important, and that day only further emphasized that for me. I may only be in Jackson for the summer, but this valley and the mountains that surround it has influenced me for the past 12 years of my life, in both the winter and summer. When a place begins to make you think in ways you could have never imagined, its only natural to want to protect it. And to make an effort to reach out to the youth of the community who may not know. TreeFight opened my eyes to the most simple way of doing that – just stapling a little packet onto a tree can make the world’s difference.
The following week, we went back up the tram to try our hand at planting the trees. After being handed planting tools that resembled heavy swords from excalibur, we set off to plant the Whitebark pine seedlings. It seemed as if the kids really enjoyed this aspect of the whole project, probably because of the sense of accomplishment that comes with actually seeing the product in the ground.
The kids were given cameras courtesy of the Film Festival to record the two days in the field and capture some quality shots. Part of TreeFight’s mission isto capture pictures and photos that conveys the beauty of the forest – ie, TreeArt – and convert those into prints and large scale images. The kids had the chance to work their photos into some absolutely incredible screen prints that will hopefully be displayed later in the summer and fall.
TreeFight is an amazing organization that really shows what people can do when passion and motivation converge. I know that my involvement has left me feeling extremely accomplished, and from the looks of it, I think these kids felt the same. Like the prints they created, saving trees and learning about their environment is a process. But the moment you pull away the paper from the screen and see the image is beyond rewarding, and the time and effort finally pays off. TreeFight-ing is a little bit like that too. Though the results are not immediate – and though we may not know the results in our lifetime – the overwhelming sense of accomplishment is enough to leave one feeling like a master printmaker. And that’s a good feeling.