Tree Detective Kits

2016 | Asheville GreenWorks

Asheville GreenWorks’ “Tree Detective Kits” will be housed in public and school libraries and will be available for families and teachers to borrow for expanding hands-on learning about urban forestry with children. Kits will include books, hand lenses, binoculars, scavenger hunts, counting games, tree stacking blocks, leaf rubbing plates and specimens of tree cookies, leaves, and seeds to promote interactive learning and discovery. The “Tree Detective” kits will increase urban forestry concepts for residents in Asheville and Buncombe County leading to a greater appreciation of the role trees play in community health. Kits have the potential to reach 1,800 residents at 12 libraries and 1,000 students at 10 Asheville City and Buncombe County schools.


The “Tree Detectives” project has been a huge success. The Lead Children’s librarian for Asheville – Buncombe County said “…the feedback is that it is amazing… EVERYONE has been very impressed with it and has said how well done the activities are.” The program’s success flowed from the flexibility GreenWorks used to deliver our goals and objectives by actively seeking input from stakeholders, turning a vision of tree education into a popular sought-after expansion of quality, fun engagement around trees. The original vision of six “Tree Detective” kits became a preschool story bag, two backpacks within the public library system, and four boxes full of curriculum based educational lessons in local elementary schools all with the theme of trees! From Tree Bingo to Leaf and Seed Matching to a dichotomous key of local trees, GreenWorks had decided that building our own activities using real seeds and leaves from local trees was going to turn this kit from ordinary to extraordinary. The kits acquaint families with the trees right outside their door, in parking lots, and those at local parks. Modifications, replication, and expansion are underway as Asheville GreenWorks sets to have a fall “Tree Detectives” program and a springtime pollinator program. The “Have a Bee-autiful Day” program will be modeled after Tree Detectives and will guide students and families through investigating pollinators in their natural habitats and the importance of pollinating plants and trees in our lives.

It was the “seed” money from TREE Fund that GreenWorks needed to kick-start a great project that has received interest and praise from local formal and informal educators alike. The funding allowed GreenWorks to create and try a variety of ways to reach the public about urban forestry. Because the structure, evaluation, and deliverance of the “Tree Detectives” project has been so successful, GreenWorks is currently seeking money to expand the current “Tree Detectives” program and use it as a model in developing pollinator packs in its wake.