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Image by Martin Kníže

 Nurture Natives 

 A Youth-Led Service Project 

About Our Project


In March, Esther Bonney, Samantha Rutherford, and Abigail Bonney were selected as three of five Maryland 4-H’ers to attend the 2022 National 4-H Youth Summit on Agriscience. There we developed a project focused on solving an agricultural issue within our community. In May, the National 4-H Council selected our team's project, Nurture Natives, as one of twelve teams nationwide to receive a grant. Through our project, we will increase biodiversity in our community by planting native species and supporting native wildlife. Please support us in our effort to better our environment and community by reading about our project and watching our Native Tree and Shrub Giveaway video.

The Issue


Through our Nurture Natives project, 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 also 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.


Our Solution

Happy Children

Through our Nurture Natives project, we will:

1) Inspire youth to take action through educational programs.

2) Increase the number of native trees and pollinators within our community by hosting a native tree giveaway.

3) Encourage customers to make educated purchases by providing local nurseries with Nurture Natives guides.

Native Tree and Shrub Giveaway


With a portion of our grant, we purchased 150 native trees and shrubs from Butterfly Alley—a wonderful nursery equipped with a large variety of Maryland native plants. Below are pictures of the native plants we purchased and gave away to community members.

Our Nurture Natives Giveaway 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

Image by UX Indonesia

Our team recently published our 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 in the process of distributing our guides to 8 local nurseries. 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 residents 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.

Nuture Natives Guide