Empower your kids to be tree heroes this summer

(BPT) – Climbing trees, laughing around a campfire, counting fireflies or just taking in the aroma of the morning dew — these are some of the childhood memories that last a lifetime. It is easy to take for granted our outdoor adventures and natural resources; this is why it is so important to help save our nation’s trees now by teaching your kids how to be stewards of the environment. Tree heroes are needed now in your community.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated August as Tree Check Month to help protect trees for future generations to enjoy. It’s a chance to teach and empower kids to become heroes for the environment and save our trees from one of the nation’s most devastating tree enemies: the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB). The ALB is an invasive pest that has destroyed more than 130,000 trees throughout the United States, including in New York, Massachusetts, Ohio, New Jersey and Illinois. There are already local tree heroes on the ground in these states fighting to save our trees, but more eyes are needed to stop the ALB.

So why do kids make ideal tree heroes? They’re curious, courageous and adventurous, and even more — the beetle is harmless to humans and pets, so it is completely safe to have your kids join in the mission to stop the Asian longhorned beetle from spreading to other areas.

Show your kids how to be tree heroes by teaching them these simple steps about how to check for signs of the ALB:

Look up. Stand back and look at the top of the tree. Do you see any dead or dying branches?

Look it over. Now get in close and focus on the tree trunk and branches. See the beetle? See any dime-sized exit holes or shallow scars in the bark?

Look down. Do you see any sawdust-like shavings at the tree’s base or on the branches? That’s a sign the ALB has been busy eating.

Before setting off on your first mission as tree heroes, check out Tree Check Month and year-round family activities at www.AsianLonghornedBeetle.com:

* Create a tree saving book that you can take on your first mission. Collect leaves from trees and glue them to the pages and teach your kids about the trees that are at risk from the ALB.

* It doesn’t matter how young your kids are; you can get them excited about saving trees by spending time reading the Spotted Bug Storybook about a boy who sets out to save trees. Re-enact scenes from the book in your own backyard to prepare your tree heroes for their mission.

* Complete Part One of the ALB Hunt worksheet before you depart for your first mission. Throw on your capes and bring along your magnifying glasses and Part Two of the worksheet while you’re helping save trees.

Now that you and your kids know what to look for, you are ready to head out on your first mission! Start in your own background and then venture to your kids’ favorite park where you can take 10 minutes to help save our nation’s trees one tree-check mission at a time!

After returning from your completed mission, USDA asks that you report any signs or sightings of the ALB by visiting www.AsianLonghornedBeetle.com or calling the toll free hotline at 1-866-702-9938.

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