Tara Church began her quest to make the world a better place at age eight when she co-founded the nation’s first youth environmental organization, TREE MUSKETEERS. Tara has dedicated an annual average of more than 400 hours since 1987. Now a college senior, Tara is determined to leave TREE MUSKETEERS as a legacy to tomorrow’s youth.
El Segundo, CA is a small residential community surrounded by the Los Angeles Airport on the north, a sewage treatment plant on the west, an oil refinery on the south and a major highway sprinkled with chemical factories on the east. Fearing for the future of the town’s environmental health, Tara and her peers decided that an enlarged community forest could at least mitigate the menu of environmental problems the town faced.
Tara personally mentors youth in the skills required to lead environmental action and they in turn teach other kids. Youth led community forestry and recycling projects improve the local quality of life and are designed for nationwide replication.
Tara has been in the trenches as author and editor, tree planter and care giver, event organizer and participant, speaker, mentor, grant writer, program manager and leader of huge undertakings such as National Youth Summits. Tara was the primary architect of the Partners for the Planet Network, which has mobilized some 6 million people worldwide in the youth environmental movement.
Of the 13 founders, Tara is the leader who has remained steadfastly at the helm of TREE MUSKETEERS that grew from local tree planting project to national dimensions in only five years on 100% volunteer power, in-kind donations as primary revenue source and youthful tenacity.
“I met Tara 11 years ago, when she sat down next to me on the first day of fifth grade," remarked Tamara Smith, Tree Musketeers Board Member. “We became instant friends, and even at such a young age, I recognized in her the rare qualities of a person who effects change.”