‘Tree cookies’ sweeten holidays, help future foresters

Tree cookie ornaments

This holiday season, give tomorrow’s foresters the gift of education by adorning your tree with handmade ornaments from Northern Arizona University’s Centennial Forest.

The “tree cookie” ornaments, crafted from unwanted skinny ponderosa pine trees that have overpopulated Southwestern forests, sell for $5 to $12 and the proceeds send youth to forestry camp.

The ornaments will be available for purchase during First Friday Art Walk from 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 2, in front of Animas Trading Company, 1 E. Aspen Ave., Flagstaff.

Pre-made ornaments or customized orders also may be purchased through the program website or by calling (928) 523-6727.

Cheryl Miller, director of the Centennial Forest Junior Forester Camp, said funds from ornament sales have provided an outdoors experience and conservation training to more than 500 young people ages 9 to 16 in the last eight years. The weeklong camp costs $650 per camper, which she hopes to offset with sales from the tree ornaments.

“Our goal with the camp is to nurture the love of nature in children so they see themselves as our next generation of environmental stewards,” Miller said. “Because of the ornament sales, we’ve never turned a child away from camp on the basis of financial need, and we hope to continue to provide those opportunities for children in our community.”