As part of the exhibition Earth Matters: Land as Material and Metaphor in the Arts of Africa, the Smithsonian, National Museum of African Art (NMAfA) has partnered with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC), the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI), the Gabonese Republic, Casey Trees, and DC public schools to establish a tree-banding program in the nation’s capital. Tree-banding is a K-12, citizen science program developed by SERC that provides students with the equipment and training needed to measure the growth of trees in response to varying climates and climate change. Once implemented in DC public schools, experts trained here in the US will then transfer the program to partner schools in Africa. The participating schools will then have the opportunity, through video conferencing and other web technologies, to engage with each other in real time to exchange knowledge of science and culture.
As part of the tree-banding program, NMAfA has also developed an environmental-documentation web program that allows students who are involved in tree-banding to talk about the environmental issues that are relevant to them using words and pictures. Together, these two programs are designed to foster an environmental consciousness in young students, to provide them with a forum for discussing what they observe in their local environments, and to contribute valuable information to real science.