Tree Connection Program - Connecting Art, Environment, Community
founded by Elizabeth Cole with pilot program at Wildwood Christian Academy

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Photos are from Sharptop Art Center during the creation of their journal covers
and the Tree Connection Exhibit, along with planting of the trees at Roper Park.

The inspiration for the Tree Connection Program came while meeting with the City of Johannesburg's Park Department staff in South Africa during the spring of 2009. The City has an ongoing program through which trees are grown and planted within city parks by local schools. Each student receives a tree sapling and over the course of a year the participants tend to the care of each tree. When the tree reaches a certain height, it is moved to a city operated nursery located within one of it's parks. The students continues to visit and care for each tree. Once the trees are established, each is planted within one of the city's parks by the students with assistance from park staff. The value of this program is significant in that it provides the City with an on going inventory of trees and establishes a connection with the community to their parks.

The purpose of the Tree Connection Program is to provide a hands-onlearning experience that promotes environmental stewardship, cultural heritage and community awareness. There is a simple theory that states, in order to appreciate something you must first be exposed to it. By providing an opportunity for our students to experience our local regions natural and cultural resources, awareness begins. And thru time grows the desire to protect, preserve and foster learning, responsibility and legacy.

Demonstration Project - WCA
With Wildwood Christian Academy, a private school located in Marble Hill, Georgia, the program inspired by our friends in South Africa was expanded to included journaling, visits to local natural resource sites and working with artists to develop an appreciation for our heritage and culture. Students have taken on the responsibility of tending to 48 native tree saplings that will be planted within Roper Park this spring. Additionally, each student is keeping a journal that includes writings, photographs and drawings that will be displayed at the Sharptop Arts Association in April 2012.

October 2011: Photo Journalism
Students meet with Al Clayton to share photo journalism and story telling techniques.

October 2011: Trees Arrive
Students adopt and name trees.

November 2011:
Conservation Land Fall Hike Students hike Burnt Mountain Preserve, learn about forest & watershed conservation and collect found objects.
Tree Connection Journaling at Burnt Mountain Preserve Trail

November 2011: Reinhardt University
Students visit Reinhardt Arboretum, Funk Heritage Center and The Falany Performing Arts Center.

February 2012: Rotary Club
Students and staff present The Tree Connection Program to Jasper Rotary Club.

February 2012: Day of the Heart
Students learn drawings styles and produce sketches for digital quilt.

March 2012: Clay Slab Imprints
Students meet with Dee Boggus to create clay slab imprints with found objects.

April 2012: Conservation Land Spring Hike
Students hike Burnt Mountain Preserve and learn about native plants.

April 2012: Tree Journal Covers
Students meet with Joan Baragar & Mary Ann Clayton to create journal covers.

April 2012: SAA Visionary Gardens
Students meet with Root Design Studio to learn about public gardens and parks.

April 2012: Roper Park
Students plant trees in County Park.

April 2012: Tree Connection Exhibition
Tree Connection student


  • 48 native trees planted in county park
  • 48 journals including writings, drawings & photographs
  • 48 drawings compiled into digital quilt & auctioned at WCA Gala
  • 48 clay imprinted slabs
  • Connection to Burnt Mountain Preserve & land conservation
  • Connection to Reinhardt University Arboretum, Falany Performing Arts Center & Funk Heritage Center
  • Connection to local artists and community
  • Exhibition at Sharptop Arts Association
  • Video documentary, local press coverage & civil club presentations

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Jasper, Georgia in Pickens County in the North Georgia Mountains
Blaine, Hinton, Jasper, Ludville, Marble Hill, Nelson, Talking Rock & Tate GA

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