A Holiday Tree Gathering

Environmental Learning for Kids
3 min readDec 22, 2023


In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, amidst the twinkling lights and festive cheer, there’s a magical opportunity to forge deeper connections within families. The synergy of nature, the outdoors, and the joy of holiday traditions intertwine beautifully and set a perfect backdrop for engaging multi-generational families in creating lasting memories and educational experiences for all involved.

This month, with much excitement, the Environmental Learning for Kids organization gleefully planned for the very first time, a Learning Environmental Activities for Families (LEAF) adventure in Georgetown, CO for families to cut down their very own holiday trees. As it tends to, however, Colorado weather had plans of its own, and we were forced to do what we do best — and PIVOT. Because we know that nature is predictably unpredictable.

Instead, we partnered with our friends at Denver Parks and Recreation to ensure ELK families could still haul home their very own holiday tree.

The morning started with our crew gathering to enjoy some yummy burritos and comradery. Then off we went to Denver Parks and Recreation’s nursery. Here, we learned about the science behind growing native Colorado plants, and the history of one of the holiday’s most famed, (and America’s #1 selling) potted plant— the poinsettia. Native to Mexico, did you know that the “ancient Aztecs used poinsettias to make red dye, and they turned to poinsettia sap to control fevers?” Yeah, we didn’t either!

After learning more educational fun facts and choosing some beautiful fresh flowers to take home, it was time to pick out a freshly cut tree from surrounding Denver Mountain Parks. We watched each family walk through the lot, sizing up trees that would create the perfect holiday centerpiece for their home. Some families had infants and grandparents in tow.

In today’s fast-paced world, moments of shared experience between different generations can sometimes be fleeting. However, programs like LEAF bring grandparents, parents, and children together, creating a space where wisdom, laughter, and love can be exchanged freely.

Binding our chosen trees to our roof racks with the smell of fresh pine in the air, and experiences already morphing into forever memories, we were off. With thorns in our hands, but joy in our hearts.

Happy Holidays from the ELK family, to yours!

About Environmental Learning for Kids: Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK) is a local nonprofit that creates a sense of belonging, self-discovery, and adventure in the outdoors for underrepresented young people of color and their families, transforming youth into environmental stewards and trailblazers that promote equitable outdoor access, sustainable practices, and community uplift. Learn more at elkkkids.org.

About the Author: Kristina Gray received her Bachelor of Art degree in Political Science from MSU Denver in 2011. She has been a part of the nonprofit sector for over 10 years. She is an alumnus of the Corporation for National and Community Service’s AmeriCorps VISTA program and the Hispanic Chamber Foundation’s Aspiring Leaders Program, Class of 2017. Kristina spends her free time advocating for justice and equity for all of Colorado’s youth & families and going on adventures with her husband and young daughter. Contact Kristina at kgray@elkkids.org.



Environmental Learning for Kids

Environmental Learning for Kids cultivates a passion in science, leadership, and service in a diverse community of learners.