Ryan Beaupain couldn’t find a shady tree to rest under after playing a hot day of soccer at Begg Field, right next to Polliwog Park in Manhattan Beach.
There’s a “field next to it covered with dirt,” Ryan said, “there could be an oak there and provide a lot of shade.”
That was his last day just talking about the problem. Now, the Manhattan Academy 5th grader's focus is to plant new trees at Polliwog Park.
He's determined to help reverse climate change, Ryan said, while adding something to the community that everyone can enjoy.
“I decided this is the most affordable way and, in my opinion, one of easiest ways to beat climate change,” the 11-year-old said.
His goal is to plant five to 10 trees, he said, and each one costs about $3,000. The expense is in exchange for the time it takes to grow, nurture and transport each tree, Ryan added. Manhattan Beach has a 3% tree canopy coverage, Ryan said, while Baltimore, Maryland has 20%. Ryan hopes to root just a fraction of the east coast state's tree population in his own city.
To help cover the costs, Ryan is asking for donations through GoFundMe. He hopes to raise $30,000 to buy all 10 trees, and has collected nearly $1,500 since creating the fundraiser late last month.
He's also gone knocking door to door in his neighborhood with his brother, friends and mother to spread the word about his project.
Ernest Area, Manhattan Beach’s Urban Forester, has been helping Ryan scope out the project, Ryan said. The city’s Urban Forestry Program manages and enhances street trees—more than 12,000 within nearly 4 square miles—and is responsible for proper tree care, planting new trees and removing dead and hazardous trees, according to Manhattan Beach’s website.
Ryan wrote a letter in November to Manhattan Beach Mayor Nancy Hersman, he said, whom then connected him with Stephanie Katsouelas, the city’s director of public works. Katsouleas put Ryan in touch with Area, he added, to get expert direction on planting the trees.
Hersman said Ryan's plan was well thought out from the beginning.
He sent a full proposal explaining what he wanted to do and how he would do it, Hersman said. Ryan had explicitly stated what types of trees he wanted to plant and how he was going to fundraise, she added.
Ryan wants to plant different species of trees, he said, to avoid them being wiped out by a disease. Some of the species Area suggested, Ryan added, are the Chinese Elm, Drake Elm and Stone Pine, all of which are drought resistant.
"He taught me that the size of tree matters because if you plant a small tree, it can get very vulnerable to disease and people tend to vandalize them," Ryan said.
The trees have to be large enough to fit in at least a 36" by 36" box, Ryan's mother, Cathy Beaupain, said.
"You cant buy baby trees, you have to buy mature (ones) to plant in public spaces so it doesn't die or get vandalized," Cathy Beaupain said.
He's looking to plant trees in the park's most scarce areas, Ryan said, except for near the amphitheater, and organize the community to help plant them.
Ryan has less than a month to raise funds through his current GoFundMe campaign, Cathy Beaupain said, but he will continue working toward his goal even if the money doesn't meet that time frame.