Interactive Tree Workshop


“Each generation takes the Earth as trustees.”

—J. Sterling Morton


Location: Bayard Cutting Arboretum


Time: 10:00 AM


Duration: 1 hr 45 mins (with a snack break provided)


Available: September 2023 to June 2024


Workshop cost: $750.00 (Grants are available)



Joe Whelski

Email Joe Whelski Here

Phone: (917)-617-2126


These are the words spoken by Arbor Day founder J. Sterling Morton back in the late 1800’s, and they ring as true today as they did back then. With the Earth undergoing climate change, it is more urgent than ever that our children become the new stewards of our Trees.  It seems with every generation, we become more and more removed from nature, and as a result, many children do not have the opportunity to cultivate a relationship with the natural world, especially with our much-needed and wonderful trees. Trees are the givers of life, and a new generation of guardians is needed to protect and watch over them. (When a child provides a future for a tree, a tree will provide a future for a child!)


This workshop is meant to connect students with trees, and to help them see trees as “individuals” as unique and worthwhile as any other living entity. Through personalization, children will begin to see trees as “their new BFFs” (best friends forever!), with long life spans that provide us with life-sustaining health benefits. Best of all, this educational and laughter-filled workshop is presented by…a walking, talking TREE!


Taught by “THE TREE”, a comedic costume character created by Professional New York City actor, teacher, and improviser Joe Whelski, students will learn in a fun, laughter-filled way—helping them to easily recall with joy the important messaging they will receive about caring for and protecting the future of our Trees! Through interactive stories and comedic improvisational games, children will learn the importance of our trees, and strategies to care for trees in their own communities. They will create a craft that helps them relate to their new tree best friend, and in a workshop graduation ceremony, will get to hug and take a picture with their “own personal tree”. Finally, they’ll pledge an oath to always love and help their new BFF. The students will then become our much-needed, future tree ambassadors!


Participant Teacher Testimonial

“It was such a wonderful experience for the students in my class. The Tree Program was educational, engaging, and fun. The program fit in perfectly with our third grade Science curriculum. It was the perfect real life extension that helped to build a greater awareness of just what a valuable resource our trees are. The children were given a tour of the beautiful Arboretum and invited to come back with their families.

The living tree was the perfect guide for our trip. He was both engaging and fascinating as he taught and entertained the students. They were very proud of the craft that they were able to make and bring home. The students have already begun to use the wooden book you gave the class to generate ideas of how to help preserve our trees.

Thank you again for making this new Tree Program available to us. I look forward to bringing future classes to the Arboretum.”



Headshot of Joe WhelskiAbout Joe Whelski

Award-winning New York City Professional Actor, Teacher, Director, and Improviser Joe Whelski created “The Tree” to educate and engage the public; and to create a fun and impactful way to spread awareness for our trees while entertaining people of all ages.  He is a teacher at the world-famous Magnet Theater for improvisation and has starred in over 20 stage productions in NYC, NJ & PA. In addition, Joe is an accomplished filmmaker who has created national and local PSA commercials for The Shark Angels, The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Bideawee, Born Free USA, DAVSS (w/VO by Dr. Who #4 Tom Baker), and many others. Joe is also an inaugural member and creative director for the Magnet Theater Video Lab, and alumnus of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts & The New School (NYC), and Kutztown University (PA).


Connect with Joe

Official Website


Magnet Theater



Frequently Asked Questions

What ages/grade levels will be served through this project or program?

The Interactive Tree Workshop will approximately serve 20 to 25 kids at grade levels Kindergarten through 5th grade.


What is the cost of the program?

The cost of the Interactive Tree Workshop is $750.00.