A Youth-Led Organization
The highly-invasive Callery (Bradford) pear tree is wreaking havoc on our environment, ecosystem, and pollinator population.
About Nurture Natives
In March 2022, our team—Esther Bonney, Samantha Rutherford, and Abigail Bonney—was selected to attend the National 4-H Youth Summit on Agriscience. There we developed a project to help solve an agricultural issue in our community: invasive species. Our project, Nurture Natives, is dedicated to increasing biodiversity through the planting of native trees and shrubs and the eradication of invasive plants. In the past year, Nurture Natives has been featured on the National 4-H website, won a Mini Grant, and was selected by the National 4-H Council as one of two projects nationwide to receive a Scale for Success Award. Please support us by reading about our project and signing our petition!
Through Nurture Natives, our team is helping solve the issue of invasive trees, which are highly aggressive and spread rapidly. They force the displacement of native species and are a major cause of crop loss and food insecurity. In the U.S. alone, invasive species cause $40 billion worth of production losses to crops and forests per year. The trees pictured here are Callery Pear Trees. They’re detrimental to the environment yet have become a new favorite in our area.
Invasive species are a serious concern to our local farmers. There is a large population of farmers and Amish in our area who are dependent on their crops. Invasive trees such as the Tree of Heaven quickly overrun farmlands and attract invasive insects such as the Spotted Lanternfly which feed on crops.
Through Nurture Natives, we:
1) Inspire youth to take action through educational programs.
2) Increase the number of native trees and pollinators within our community by hosting native plant giveaways.
3) Encourage customers to make educated purchases by providing local nurseries with Nurture Natives guides.
Nurture Natives at Maryland Day
On April 29, 2023, our team made a splash at the University of Maryland’s Maryland Day! We ran games, crafts, activities, and an information table, in addition to distributing 400 free native trees and shrubs in just 2.5 hours! The line for the trees stretched down the courtyard and around the sidewalk, at times even longer than the line for free ice cream. Our team had the incredible opportunity to share our journey and mission with hundreds of Marylanders and the University of Maryland faculty, including Dr. Craig Beyrouty, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. We were thrilled to see so many people getting excited about native species and taking action to support them. Follow us on Facebook @NurtureNatives for future events!
(Pictured below are the 8 species we distributed.)
Native Tree and Shrub Giveaway
With a portion of the Mini Grant, our team purchased 150 native trees and shrubs from Butterfly Alley—a local all-native nursery—and partnered with six organizations to put on the first annual Nurture Natives Giveaway.
Our Nurture Natives Giveaway 2022 was a huge success! Listen as we discuss the origin of Nurture Natives, details of the giveaway, and the importance of native species.
Nurture Natives Guide
Our team recently published an original Nurture Natives Guide, a booklet that discusses the harmful effects of invasive species and descriptions of common invasive species and their native look-alikes. Check it out below!
We are currently distributing our Nurture Natives Guides to nurseries throughout Charles County. Nurseries can set these guides out for their customers, who can reference the guide while searching for a tree or shrub. We believe that the invasive species being planted by community members is not due to a lack of enthusiasm but rather a lack of education. We hope our guides result in more educated and positively impactful purchases.