It’s time again for TICCIT, PPC’s signature Earth Day outreach program. Short for Trees Into Cartons, Cartons Into Trees, participating organizations educate local school children about sustainability and the environmental benefits of trees.
We recently talked TICCIT with Rhonda Shelton (image left) and Amy Payne (image right) from PPC member Southern Champion Tray (SCT). They’ve coordinated and presented TICCIT on behalf of SCT for years. Here’s their perspective.
How many years has SCT participated in TICCIT?
Amy: We’ve been participating ever since the program began in 2009, except for one year. I’ve led at least one presentation each year.
Rhonda: Over the years, our program has grown. Last year, our Tennessee facility presented at eight schools, educating a total of 738 students. Our Texas facility went to five schools and educated more than 1400 students.
How do you go about doing the presentations?
Rhonda: We usually have one main presenter and as many helpers as necessary, depending on the number of students. We have different presenters each year, depending on their relationships with the schools. In addition to our verbal presentation, we also hand out samples of our products and then we help the kids to plant their saplings.
Amy: The kids line up and they get a tree and a box. We first show them how to fold a box and then we do a planting of the saplings or we send them home with the saplings depending on what the school wants. We do the presentations a little differently every year. We’re honing it. But they’re always different depending on who’s doing it and the size of the school.
Do you do anything special or unique for your presentations, beyond using the PPC classroom materials and distributing saplings?
Rhonda: We bring in slices of tree trunks to teach children about a tree’s age and how it grew by the rings on a cross section. We also bring in our own folding cartons and put photos of our facility in the presentation. That way the kids will see that we’re a business that’s right here in their community.
Amy: We also reference the movie “The Lorax” because most of the kids have seen it and relate to it.
Do the kids like it?
Amy: They love it! And they love to participate. I thought it was going to be hard to get them to participate, but they are always excited and engaged. They want to answer questions and some even want to volunteer things they already know. It’s exciting for them because it takes them out of the ordinary. It’s like an onsite field trip.
I like how customizable TICCIT is to different ages. Personally I’ve presented to almost every elementary grade. It’s just so easy to tailor to any age you’re talking to. We use the exact same materials, but present the information differently.
Does TICCIT provide value to your community?
Amy: Getting the knowledge out there is valuable—so the kids run home and tell their families about it, and so do the teachers! It also helps the community to know that there’s a business in town that works with paperboard and tree products, and that we’re very mindful of recycling and sustainability.
How do you feel after facilitating a TICCIT program?
Rhonda: It’s so enriching personally. It’s fun to see the kids. They ooh and aah when handing the tree rings and learning about the renewable resources.
Amy: It’s such good information that even the participators—almost all of us—have said wow, I never knew that, at some point or other when were learning the presentation, and same with the teachers. So the adults learn too!
Should other companies participate in TICCIT?
Amy: Yes. It has great educational value, not only for the kids, but also for employees and the community. We’re in this business and there’s a lot of knowledge out there that we don’t necessarily know how to explain to people. TICCIT is real helpful for that.
Rhonda: It definitely builds relationships, and probably future employees. Plus, anytime you can get the kids excited about something, that’s valuable itself.
Do you have any advice for companies that might be participating for the first time this year?
Rhonda: Start small and get your feet wet. Learn what works for your presenters and the kids in your area. Then grow it slowly. Don’t try to start out with too many schools or you might get overwhelmed.
Amy: The first few years, we struggled to get different SCT employees to volunteer. It was mostly me in the beginning. But once we got people to do it, they loved it and wanted to do it again the next year.
Rhonda: In fact, this year we’ve doubled our number of volunteers to almost 40 and we’ve increased our number of schools to 12. We’re already at over 1100 students. We can’t wait to give the presentations!
And there you have it. Ready to participate? Visit paperbox.org/TICCIT for presentation materials, instructions for ordering discounted tree saplings for the kids, and much more. And don’t forget to send us pictures from your presentation!