Service Learning

Service-learning is a philosophy, pedagogy, and model for community development that is used as an instructional strategy to meet learning goals and/or content standards. The act of service-learning engages youth and adults in projects that provide a lasting impact. Service-learning encompasses curriculum links, reflection, diversity, youth voice, partnership and meaningful service.*

Through learning and reflection, students are capable of comparing their life situations to those of the people they serve and to place any need or problem in local and global contexts. Once students start to consider the possibility of changing social problems, they realize the importance of the learning component. It takes service to meet needs, but knowledge and skills to end them.**

“The importance of youth voice lies in one simple idea: engagement. With the power of engagement, you can accomplish anything.” Service-learning Student

“Giving back to the communities in which we live and work is tremendously important to us. Not only are we creating less waste by encouraging members to use less paper, but also we’re supporting a local organization that provides great community programs for children and adults alike.” Michigan State Federal Credit Union commenting on the Go Green Challenge

“Trees are important because they give us oxygen. That’s why we should plant lots of trees.” Student at State Arbor Day Celebration

How do trees facilitate service-learning?

Curriculum Link

Service-learning is intentionally used as an instructional strategy to meet learning goals and/or content standards.*

  • Participants will have a real life project to relate their coursework.
  • Educational support materials for participants to dive deeper into the complexities of environmental education.
  • Opportunity to share individual ideas and project stories through a public blog space.
  • Tree planting is an example of environmental problem solving and community development.


Service-learning incorporates multiple challenging reflection activities that are ongoing and that prompt deep thinking and analysis about oneself and one’s relationship to society.*

  • Tree planting provides a platform to begin talking about one’s environmental impact: Do you recycle?, How much garbage do you produce?, How do you get to school?, Do you spend time outside?, etc.
  • Once you begin reflecting on your own environmental impact you can begin looking at your family, school, community, state, country, and world.


Service-learning promotes understanding of diversity and mutual respect among all participants.*

  • Environmental issues are complex and involve a diverse group of stakeholders. Participants will learn about communities across Michigan with different environmental needs and problems.
  • By collaborating on a group project participants will learn more about their peers and group decision-making.
  • Participants will witness how tree plantings can bring communities together through volunteerism.

Youth Voice

Service-learning provides youth with a strong voice in planning, implementing, and evaluating service-learning experiences with guidance from adults.*

  • With guidance from their teacher, parents, and/or club leader, youth will organize their own Go Green Youth Challenge.
  • Opportunity to share individual ideas and project stories through a public blog space.
  • Adults and youth will work together to raise awareness about tree planting, which requires an open exchange of ideas.
  • Youth become the leaders of environmental stewardship.
  • Participants can provide their input on where trees should be planted in Michigan.
  • Participants will receive post tree planting updates: where the trees were planted, pictures, how the community was impacted by the trees.
  • Opportunity to win a tree planting for their community.


Service-learning partnerships are collaborative, mutually beneficial, and address community needs.*

  • The Go Green Youth Challenge will form a partnership between participants and the program.
  • Participants have the choice to reach out to community-based organizations, businesses, neighboring schools, etc. to strengthen their campaign.
  • Tree planting is a community need across Michigan. EAB has the potential to wipe out more than 700 million ash trees in Michigan. Since 2002, it has killed more than 30 million ash trees in southeastern Michigan alone.***

Meaningful Service

Service-learning actively engages participants in meaningful and personally relevent service activities.*

  • The Go Green Youth Challenge provides an opportunity for youth interested in the environment to become actively involved in the project.
  • Tree plantings are a visible and attainable outcome that has value for those involved.
  • Challenging youth to collect spare change is an appropriate experience for their age and abilities.
  • The Go Green Youth Challenge supports, engagement, exchange of ideas, and open conversation through individual projects and the public blog space.

*National Youth Leadership Council, K-12 Service-Learning Standards for Quality Practice



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