Leah Rankin | Staff Writer
Julian Carter-Li has the worst family in the world. His mother left him behind so that she could go to China and made him stay with his evil aunt and uncle who don’t even like him. And worst of all, Julian’s uncle is responsible for cutting down hundreds of redwood trees just so he can be rich and have chauffeurs drive him around in fancy cars.
In today’s meeting of the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle Young Readers Program, local forester Lori Brockelbank will visit to talk about the book Operation Redwood by S. Terrell French and why trees are so important to the environment.
Young Readers will meet at 4:15 p.m. today in the Garden Room of Alumni Hall.
“It’s an opportunity for kids to think about environmental issues,” said Jack Voelker, director of the Department of Recreation and Youth Services.
In Operation Redwood, 12-year-old Julian intercepts an email sent to his uncle from an angry girl named Robin. Robin lives with her family on a plot of land next to a giant Redwood forest, which Julian’s uncle is about to tear down for profit. Together, Julian and Robin devise a plan to stop the tree cutters and Julian’s greedy uncle.
“Individuals have a responsibility to stand up for certain values and beliefs,” Voelker said.
It’s one of the most poignant messages in the book, Voelker said. Teaching kids the value of nature and giving them the courage to stand up for what they believe in is an essential part of creating a green generation.
Voelker has invited Brockelbank to speak about the importance of trees at today’s meeting. Brockelbank works for a forestry company called Forecon Inc. and often speaks at schools to educate kids about what they can do to help the environment.
In Operation Redwood, Julian’s uncle makes money from cutting down redwood trees. Julian’s uncle wants to cut down 50 acres of Redwoods, which would make his business $20 million.
But some of those redwoods are thousands of years old, and the species was around in the age of the dinosaurs. Julian can’t stand the thought of someone using such an ancient living thing as wood for a patio or kitchen cupboards.
Voelker said he hopes that Brockelbank will talk about how much money trees can save. For example, planting trees around a house can save hundreds of dollars every year in air conditioning costs. Trees help filter air and water and help the environment in more ways than one.
Kids will learn about how to help trees and other plants grow and the importance of the long-term benefits of trees, especially in urban environments. Trees save more than just money, and it’s one of the lessons they’ll learn from Brockelbank and Operation Redwood.