Why We Taught YouTube Influencers to Plant Trees

Sarah Dyrdahl, MFWWC Executive Director, was deemed a "Tree Planting Expert" by MrBeast

This month we did a super fun, outside-the-box planting event with a couple of YouTube celebrities, and now the epic-ness of that effort is unfolding before our eyes. When we submitted a proposal to Arbor Day Foundation this summer to host an influencer and some of his friends for a planting event in our backyard at Elijah Bristow State Park, we had no idea this was the event that would end up being much of the footage for a trending YouTube video with over 29 million views (and counting!), kicking off a viral campaign to raise money for 20 million trees by 2020 – which is about 70 days. Are they out of their minds???

MrBeast Crew & Mark Rober learning to plant trees
Over $11M raised for trees in just 6 days!

Now, I consider us pros when it comes to tree planting and volunteer events, but this experience has been far beyond what I could have imagined. As of October 25th, what we do every single day has become a media sensation and a downright environmental movement. In six days over $11 million has been raised – leveraging social media support and the likes of Elon Musk (who’s changed his social media handle to Treelon – how cute is that?!).

You don't even need the correct day or address to get volunteers when you're MrBeast!

My expectations going into our 2-day planting event weren’t very high – when Mr. Beast sent out a tweet asking for volunteers the afternoon before the volunteer event, I was skeptical at best. Imagine my surprise in hearing that over 1,000 people showed up at Springfield LTD Station at 7 AM to volunteer! This can’t be real… I am pleased to say that I came away from that experience energized, inspired, and hopeful.

As volunteers climbed off the busses and learned what they would be doing, the excitement began to build. During the event, I asked a number of the mostly college-aged volunteers to tell me why they showed up. The answer was resoundingly clear: they believe in philanthropy and want to be part of doing something good. Everyone was stoked to plant trees. Together, we converted an empty, grassy field to what will one day be a beautiful forest right in our backyard at Elijah Bristow State Park. Check it out for yourself! It’s public land!

The field of new trees!

I’ve been a #TeamTrees champion for 13 years. I’ve ordered, planted, and maintained hundreds of thousands of trees. Trees that will grow into forests along rivers, and trees that will grow into big, charismatic oaks on sunny hillsides. I’ve worked with professional planting crews that can plant 700 trees per person per day, and I’ve worked with students who plant just a few plants in a day – because it’s hard work. While planting trees may be simple to some, to me it stands for something much greater – connecting youth and adults to nature; infusing cash into local economies from tree planters to nurseries; increasing the beauty of the place we live, work, and play; and creating a better future. These are values we hold at the watershed council every single day of the year. You too can be a #TeamTrees champion. Join us in the local movement by signing up for our newsletter, coming to an event, or showing your support with a donation. The trees thank you.

— Sarah Dyrdahl, Executive Director