The Greening of Detroit—Tree Keepers Kids: 2006-2007 Evaluation Report, Executive Summary

Plumb, S., Becker-Klein, R., Duffin, M., & PEER Associates. (2007).

The primary finding from this evaluation was that the Tree Keepers Kids (TKK) program played a key role in helping all five schools under investigation to increasingly use the outdoors as a focal point for learning. The strongest outcomes were seen in the schools with a strong pre-existing relationship with The Greening of Detroit, active principal support, a strong staff champion, and a general readiness for outdoor learning. TKK helped to sustain and support a slow but steady learning curve as educators adopted the practice of using hands-on lessons in an outdoor classroom (OC) to teach traditional concepts and content. At each school, a few individuals and groups tended to use the OC more frequently, beyond when TKK staff delivered lessons. At all five schools, the vast majority of educators interviewed reported TKK to be an important asset with high value for students, educators, and the school community as a whole. Additional findings included:

  • TKK program increased six important aspects of educator practice;
  • TKK mentoring, links to curriculum, direct service, and resources held highest programmatic value;
  • Educators reported increased student academic achievement and appreciation for nature;
  • Mixed evidence for additional benefits of combining in-school, after-school, and summer academy delivery models;
  • Schools with participatory principals and a cohesive, enthusiastic staff exhibited highest outcomes;
  • Lack of whole-school involvement was the greatest challenge to the TKK program model; and
  • Positive relationship with Detroit Public School system was critically important to success.
Delivery Area
  • school based
  • out of school time/after school
Demographic Area
  • urban