Paradise fire damage inspires teen’s tree-planting quest

Paradise fire damage inspires teen's tree-planting quest
Aidan Whitney

Dealing with the aftermath of the Paradise Fire, high school senior Aidan Whitney planted 12 trees in his parents’ backyards in Clayton and Santa Cruz. It didn’t take long for him to realize that his efforts wouldn’t be enough to replace the thousands of acres of charred trees or improve the air quality in the Bay Area. He started a project called Seeds of Hope to help reduce carbon dioxide from the atmosphere caused by wildfires and fossil fuels. Aidan has organized a tree-growing movement that encourages all Bay Area students to plant a tree by February 14.

Rather than becoming overwhelmed with the reality of the climate crisis, Aidan has researched which trees capture the most carbon dioxide and produce the most oxygen. He’s written curriculum for science teachers to include growing trees. To help teachers, Aidan created videos on how to germinate seeds. Because students study science every year, he believes that Seeds of Hope could plant a billion trees annually.


Planting seeds

By building a website ( that includes easy-to-follow instructions on how to germinate and grow a tree, Aidan hopes to encourage students all over the United States to join him. His website has a tally counter to keep track of how many seeds have been planted and how many actually grow to be full-grown trees. Supporters can add their photos to his website so they inspire others to do the same.

Paradise fire damage inspires teen's tree-planting questSeeds of Hope has instituted the Student-Teacher Tree Challenge. The student- teacher who plants the most trees by February 14 each year will win the $500 prizes (both student and teacher wins $500 each). Students simply take photos of the various stages of growth: germination, seedlings, and saplings to transplanting trees in the ground. Then they fill out the Tree Planting form as soon as they plant their first seeds, and update the form as the seed matures to show proof of growth.

One million trees

Imagine if our students can plant one million trees by 2025? Aidan and Seeds of Hope want to give students a renewed sense of optimism for our planet and a blueprint for future action. We need more students who react to problems our civilization faces with the kind of tenacity, creativity, and drive that Aidan has.

For more information about Aidan’s tree-planting project, go to