Courtney Scott, a 17-year-old soon-to-be senior at Tucker High School, was browsing the internet when a link popped up that she felt compelled to click on.
The link Scott had stumbled upon was to apply for a 2011 student grant through Planet Connect, an online social network where high school students can learn about environmental issues, funding opportunities, green colleges and environmental careers.
“You had to give them an application and then a plan and where you were going to spend the money,” Scott said.
Scott, who lives in Stone Mountain, wanted to do something that would spread awareness of environmental conservation and also improve the surroundings in her community, so she proposed to plant 1,000 trees over four months.
“Trees are being cut down all around the world,” Scott wrote in her proposal, titled ‘Give Back.’ “If people will not stop cutting down trees, then this planet and all its inhabitants are in danger of losing their home. I will try my best to re-compensate for all the trees that are being cut down and I will influence others to do the same.”
On March 3, Planet Connect announced that Scott, along with 10 other high school students around the United States, had been awarded grants and the students began to receive funding for their projects around April 1.
“It is a lot, sometimes I wish I put down 500 [trees]but I’m really excited,” Scott said.
Scott said her interest in the environment stems from when she was little and used to go camping with her brothers’ Boy Scout troop, and when her parents would take her to the zoo. While she was growing up, Scott said her parents weren’t the most environmentally conscious people, but now she’s beginning to rub off on them. She has gotten the whole house recycling and her mom is now a vegetarian as she is.
Planet Connect, which is run by the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), wanted something different this year from the students who were applying for the grant.
“Our first two years it was just a grant for general environmental projects. This year we had a specific theme, which was wildlife conservation. Their projects will be finishing up around the end of June,” David Lanham, education associate for the NEEF said.
Lanham said that the purpose of the grant program is to help high school students get involved in their community and create awareness of environmental issues. Each grant is for $1,000, $500 of which goes to help the students fund their projects and another $500 for a summer internship of their choice.
“Her plan is to get to 1,000 trees and I think she is already over 300 or 400. With something like that it’s easy for the public to take notice,” Lanham said.
Scott, who wants to eventually become a conservation biologist or a wildlife veterinarian, has not yet decided on a summer internship but said that as long as it is outside and has something to do with the environment she will be happy.
“I don’t believe planting trees should be a hobby. I hope this inspires people to plant more trees and become more conscious of the environment,” Scott said.