4H clove leaf




The purpose of this project is to help you learn more about trees, forests and the environment. We also want you to practice life skills such as goal setting and communicating with others.

Tree identification is important because different types of trees have different requirements for growth, and have different values to people. Some types of trees are more important to wildlife than others. You can even learn something about a place simply by knowing what kinds of trees are growing there. Finally, if you want to do research on trees, it will help if you know their names!

4-H Project Portfolio

This project is designed to accompany a 4-H project portfolio. You can get a portfolio from you county Extension Agent. Use the portfolio to plan your project, and to report your accomplishments.

Setting Goals and Planning for your Project

Things to learn

  • Suggested levels (choose one)
    • Beginner- identify 10 trees
    • Novice- identify 25 trees
    • Advanced- identify 50 trees
    • Master- identify 100 trees and plants
  • Learn winter characteristics (buds, bark, branching)
  • Learn summer characteristics (leaves, flowers, fruit)

Things to do

  • Find an adult who can help you, such as a forester.
  • Choose a site where you can study trees often.
  • Arrange to have a forester visit your site and identify trees with you.
  • Practice identifying your trees several times during the year.
  • Study leaf characteristics, and describe the leaves from trees at your site.
  • Make a leaf collection, and compare them with leaves in a tree identification book.
  • Find a nature trail where trees have already been identified.
  • Observe the trees in your yard and try to match them pictures in a book.
  • Have a forester check your work.
  • Ask friends to learn with you.

project portfolio

4-H Project Portfolio


Cemetaries are great places to study trees.

During the Project: Actions and Activities

Complete at least four activities, using the following lists for ideas.





  • Keep a scrapbook that illustrates the value of trees to people, and show it to others.
  • Read a book about trees to a younger audience.
  • Donate a leaf/seed/photo collection to a library or teacher.
  • Identify the trees at your school for nature study.
  • Help organize or conduct an Arbor Day activity.
  • Draw a poster about trees or forests, and exhibit it in a public place.

forest in Fall


Your 4-H Story

1. Tell us how you went about setting your goals for this project, and how you arranged for learning. (How did you select your trees? Did you do this project at camp, as part of a group, or "on your own?" Did you get your information from books, a particular person, a combination of the two?)

2. Tell us how you solved problems. (Were any trees particularly hard to learn? How did you deal with frustration? Did you set realistic goals? Were you successful the first time you demonstrated your skills to an adult? How long did the project take you?)

3. Tell us about the communication skills you practiced. (Consider how you communicated with the adults who helped you- how did you approach them, did you do anything special for them? How successful were your leadership and citizenship experiences?)

4. Did you have fun?

playing near tree


Checklist of Virginia Trees- Use this to keep a life list of the trees you learn.

Foresters- There are foresters in every county of Virginia. Here are some suggestions for contacting them:

Extension agents- may be able to help you identify trees. They can also help you locate a 4-H leader or forester, and inform you of opportunities to complete your leadership and citizenship experiences.

Poster Contests- "Keep Virginia Green" Contact Virginia Forestry Assoc., 8810B Patterson Ave. Richmond, VA 23229. 804-741-0836.

Career Information- Contact Society of American Foresters, 5400 Grosvenor Lane, Bethesda, MD 20814. Ask for a publication, "So you want to be in forestry" and for a list of accredited forestry schools.

Tree line


Beginner- a book, Forest Trees of Virginia, by the Virginia Department of Forestry, Charlottesville.

Novice- a forestry tool, such as a tree scale stick

Advanced- scholarship to local or state forestry event

Master- scholarship to state or national forestry event

To qualify for these awards, return your completed and signed 4-H Project Portfolio to your 4-H leader or Extension Agent


Important Forest Trees of Eastern Forests, USDA Forest Service, Atlanta

Forest Trees of Virginia, Virginia Department of Forestry, Charlottesville.

The Textbook of Dendrology. William Harlow. McGraw-Hill, New York.

Trees: A Guide to Familiar American Trees, Herbert Zimm and Alexander Martin.

Trees of North America. Frank Brockman. Golden Press, New York.

Trees of the Eastern and Central U.S. and Canada. William Harlow. Dover Publishers.

Other 4-H Activities

(contact your local Extension Agent for details)

Forestry Judging- a competitive program for teams of 3-4 youth, involving tree and forest pest identification, measurement of timber, general forestry knowledge.

Wildlife Judging- another competitive program involving identification of wildlife foods, aerial photo interpretation, and habitat evaluation.

Natural Resource Camps- the five 4-H Centers around Virginia offer special-interest camps and programs in forestry, fishing, high adventure, hunter education, shooting education, judging, and more.

Seedlings- free pine seedlings are available for tree planting projects, including Christmas trees.

Junior Foresters Contest at the Virginia State Fair