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County of Santa Clara Partners with Office of Education to Plant 1,000 Trees on School Campuses

Ongoing program that will be rolled out on Arbor Day fosters environmental education in children and targets areas of the county where trees are sparse

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF.— The County of Santa Clara Office of Sustainability and the Santa Clara County Office of Education are kicking off a 1,000-tree planting campaign on Arbor Day that will put roots in the ground at school campuses and surrounding neighborhoods throughout the county – and help encourage an early sense of environmental stewardship among students.
The first 27 saplings will be planted Friday at the South County Annex in Gilroy, an educational

People planting tree

Our City Forest workers and volunteers install one of 27 trees at the Santa Clara County of Education South County Annex in Gilroy on Arbor Day.

campus that sits in a neighborhood largely bereft of trees. The program is done in conjunction with Our City Forest, which conducts the planting of the trees and the training of tree stewards to make sure the new growths are properly tended to. The County Board of Supervisors approved a three-year pilot program in February 2020 with a goal of planting and maintaining 1,000 trees each year. Planting began in Fall 2020, with over 1,300 trees now in place and growing.

Media is invited to attend the event, which will include remarks from County and Office of Education leaders.

“This partnership really highlights our dual commitments, both to the environment and to education,” said County of Santa Clara Board Vice President Susan Ellenberg, who pushed for a tree steward partnership with Our City Forest in 2019. “It is also about equity – many of the county’s youth don’t have the same access to nature as others. This program focuses on those urban areas to bring in some green space for our next generation of environmental stewards.”
National Arbor Day was chosen as a launch date because it celebrates the importance of nature and particularly trees, with an annual tradition of planting a sapling. The myriad benefits provided by trees are well known, yet often go unappreciated; that is why the County is committed to planting trees and promoting stewardship through programs such as this partnership with the Office of Education.

Staff digging a hole to plant trees for Arbor Day

County of Santa Clara Office of Sustainability staff assisted in the Arbor Day event.

“This is another step toward fulfilling the County’s sustainability goals, in this case, by enhancing our natural resources and the environment,” said County of Santa Clara Chief Operating Officer Miguel Márquez, J.D. “Trees provide habitat and food for wildlife, they are essential to the ecosystem for soaking up stormwater and heat interception, and they provide human benefits as simple as some shade from the summer sun to an overall improvement in mental health.”
Ecological learning opportunities at schools help foster early interest in the environment, sustainability, energy efficiency, and climate change.
“This partnership is focused on our collective goals to educate and inspire the next generation of environmental stewards,” said Dr. Mary Ann Dewan, County Superintendent of Schools. “Green spaces in learning environments are impactful to the academic and social-emotional well-being of children. I am grateful for local and regional partnerships that encourage students to participate in creating a healthy and sustainable environment.”
Once the sapling is in the ground, it will be cared for by school groundskeepers with technical support from County staff from the Office of Sustainability. Arboreal experts say this kind of care is crucial in the first three years of a tree’s growth.
“The hardest part of growing a tree isn’t putting it in the ground, and it’s not raising money,” said Jasneet Sharma, Director of the County of Santa Clara Office of Sustainability. “It’s finding a place to put it and a person to take care of it in those first critical years. Through this partnership with the Office of Education and Our City Forest, we will provide these new trees with a home and the support they will need to become a permanent part of the landscape.”

County officials and partners with shovels next to tree planting site

County Supervisor Susan Ellenberg and Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mary Ann Dewan were joined by school, County and Our City Forest representatives at a tree-planting kickoff ceremony to celebrate a new partnership that will install 1,000 trees at or near schools in the coming year.

The County of Santa Clara government serves a diverse, multi-cultural population of 1.9 million residents in Santa Clara County, California, making it more populous than 14 states in the U.S. The County provides essential services to its residents, including public health protection, environmental stewardship, medical services through the County of Santa Clara Health System, child and adult protection services, homelessness prevention and solutions, roads, park services, libraries, emergency response to disasters, protection of minority communities and those under threat, access to a fair criminal justice system, and many other public benefits. Visit the County of Santa Clara website at, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
The Office of Sustainability (OOS) seeks to build and maintain a healthy and safe county by reducing climate pollution, adapting to a changing global climate, enhancing natural resources and the environment, fostering a prosperous and just regional economy, and improving community health to ensure all people have equitable opportunities to reach their full potential. OOS is committed to building a livable, equitable and resilient community by meeting the needs of current and future generations through policy and planning initiatives to effect systems change; building capacity of County departments to operationalize sustainability initiatives; fostering networks to advance climate action and resilience solutions; and empowering sustainable behaviors through education and engagement.
Working collaboratively with school and community partners, the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) is a regional service agency that provides instructional, business, and technology services to the 31 school districts of Santa Clara County. The County Office of Education directly serves students through special education programs, alternative schools, Head Start and State Preschool programs, migrant education, and Opportunity Youth Academy. The SCCOE also provides academic and fiscal oversight and monitoring to districts in addition to the 22 Santa Clara County Board of Education authorized charter schools.​ For more information about the Santa Clara County Office of Education, please visit and follow us @SCCOE on Facebook​, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.



Media Contact: Laurel Anderson / Eric Kurhi,  Office of Communications and Public Affairs, (408) 299-5119, [email protected]; Kelly Wylie, Santa Clara County Office of Education, Creative Impact and Public Affairs, (408) 453-4285, [email protected]

Posted: April 29, 2022