"I'm kind of known as the tree hugging, environmental girl at my school," said Courtney Scott, a rising senior at Tucker High School who received a grant to plant 1,000 trees.
Scott, who lives in Stone Mountain, has always been interested in animals and wildlife had begun thinking about starting a tree planting project at her high school early last year. She saw the posting for a grant on Planet Connect, a social networking site that teaches high school students about environmental issues, and decided to apply.
Since being awarded the grant in February, Scott has been busy gathering friends, family and classmates to share their weekends with her and plant trees at parks around DeKalb County.
To date she has planted 827 trees, just shy of her 1,000 goal. While she'd hoped to have planted a 1,000 trees by the end of June she has since realized that she may be unable to reach that mark.
"Planting season happens during a specific time of the year and after that it becomes really hard to buy seedlings," said Scott. "It's also hard for a lot of the trees that I've planted to survive; some of them just don't make it."
While some of her seedlings have experienced difficulty, Scott's most successful planting venture has been at Ronald Reagan Park. Another success of Scott's efforts has been her ability to change the minds of her peers about issues related to the environment.
"I've never planted a tree before," said Melanie McCall, one of Scott's friends who gave up a few of her weekends to plant. "It's pretty cool to see them growing."
As a part of her grant Scott also received a stipend to participate in an internship of her choice. She is currently in her second week of a six-week internship with the Greening Youth Foundation, where she works to restore and preserve walking trails and park grounds that have been eroded.
Beyond the summer Scott plans to fundraise in the upcoming year for another tree planting project. Scott, who previously wanted to pursue a career as a veterinarian, now wants to work in environmental sustainability.
"If a zebra runs onto a highway and breaks its leg the problem isn't the broken leg, the problem is that the zebra is running across the highway," said Scott. "I want to work to maintain habitats and protect wildlife."