Timberline Students' Energy Saving Initiatives Take Root

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Maggie Thornsberry, 16, a junior at Timberline High School helps plant a tree.
  • Natalie Seid
  • Maggie Thornsberry, 16, a junior at Timberline High School, helps plant a tree.

In an effort to promote energy savings, 20 Timberline High School students planted 20 trees donated by Idaho Power and The Arbor Day Foundation on the north side of their school's campus Oct. 29.

“I think that keeping trees around in our community is really important. These days we are taking them down. I think it is important to keep them around and to conserve energy,” said 17-year-old Angel Abaya, a Timberline senior who spearheaded the tree planting event as part of a school project. “Nature is not important any more in our society. So I think it is important to keep it important and to make [nature] relevant to people’s lives.”

Dick Jordon, Timberline’s Environmental Science teacher, has supervised the planting of 60 trees on Timberline’s campus in the last 15 years, said the project reconnects students with nature.

“It is all about getting them out of their comfort zone, getting dirty and giving back,” said Jordon.

The 20 donated trees were left over from Idaho Power’s Shade Tree project that concluded earlier this month. The Shade Tree project was a pilot program designed to encourage Idaho Power’s residential customers to plant shade trees on the west side which can reduce energy spending by 15 percent or more. More than 200 participants received a tree for their home.

“We encouraged customers to plant trees for energy savings and we had some trees left over at the end of the project and we donated those trees to Timberline High School,” said Patti Best, an energy efficiency program specialist who oversaw the Shade Tree project and who reached out to Abaya and Jordon at Timberline. “Energy efficiency can be a least cost resource for us.”

Jordon added that it's "natural to invest in trees" because of what they give us in return.

“Trees are just so wonderful when you think about it. The fact that it is low technology, it does all the right carbon things—takes out carbon dioxide and gives back oxygen. And plus the colors. They give us so much,” said Jordon.