Growth Rings

Accidental Crew Leader

Posted on April 23, 2015 at 8:37 am

By Randi Orth

Did you know that University of Portland students comprise a fair amount of Friends of Trees’ key volunteer Crew Leaders every season? In short: they are incredible! A large part of their season’s successes are due to this year’s unstoppable and enthusiastic student Campus Volunteer Coordinator, Brooke Holmes. As her role comes to an end, read what she has to say about her time wrangling her peers and plantin’ those trees!

Brooke, off duty from her Crew Leading gig!

A freshman year Activities Fair slip-up found me on a list of confirmed students for the “Crew Leader” training for a non-University of Portland organization I had never heard of – Friends of Trees. After training and my first day as an Assistant Crew Leader, my veteran Crew Leader told me I was neither helpful nor audible, and I immediately wondered what I had done to myself. I started my career as a Crew Leader rocky and tumultuously, though since then, Crew Leading has become an essential part of myPortland-Life routine.

I can’t think of anything better than waking up at 6:30AM on a dreary Saturday morning after a week of grueling exams and lectures. The twilight slowly dissipating as my sleepiness fades away. There is no better cure for the week-before than there is in waking up early and donning your best grubbies-wear in order to plant neighborhood trees with members of your community.

Now I tell my story to new freshies at activity fairs I now lead for FOT, a planting veteran myself and the Campus Volunteer Coordinator for Friends ofTrees through the Moreau Center for Justice and Leadership at the University of Portland. I purposely poise the “Sign up for our Newsletter” and the “Sign of for ACL training” without much distinction, hoping to snag a few gullible new students like I once was. UP has ranked in the top three schools nationally for Community Service by students for years, and this can be seen in the over 150 students that came to Friends of Trees events over the course of the past year. Given that UP only has ~3,500 students, this is a number to brag about. I have been so fortunate to be able to work for such a school to bring a more intimate relationship between our college population and the FOT mission.


Early morning Crew Leader huddle

While I won’t miss sending the 100 emails I did for the big UP planting (on a count of the fact I never truly learned how to master Outlook), I will miss having an excuse to frequent the FOT office and seeing all the wonderful staff that made my Wednesday afternoons. I may have to become the Intern Dog Petter or Office Plant Waterer so that I can find reasons to pop into the office. Friends of Trees is an organization that embodies the Portland spirit, and I am so glad I stumbled my way in.

-Randi Orth is the Volunteer & Outreach Specialist with Friends of Trees

Start small, think big, act now.

Posted on April 21, 2015 at 1:32 pm

By Andy Meeks

We need to do everything we possibly can — right now — to help combat climate change. No single effort is going to fix the Earth’s rapidly-deteriorating natural resources and systems, but every little bit matters. By starting small, thinking big and acting now, we can make a difference. That’s how Friends of Trees views its work, by planting and caring for trees every weekend from October – May, year after year, for more than 25 years. Since 1989, Friends of Trees and tens of thousands of volunteers have helped combat climate change on a regional and global scale by planting more than 500,000 trees and native shrubs in Pacific Northwest communities.

While the immediate impact of this work is hard to measure, it is becoming common knowledge that planting trees is one of the most cost-effective ways to combat climate change. In fact, Oxford University researchers released a report this February that concluded that planting trees should be included as one of the primary tools to help offset climate change. The Atlantic magazine, discussing this report, said that planting trees where there weren’t any trees before will “help the atmosphere no matter what, they’re comparatively low-cost, and they carry little additional risk.”

Teaching the next generation how to properly plant native trees and shrubs in Forest Park.

Teaching the next generation how to properly plant native trees and shrubs in Forest Park.















Earth Day is this Wednesday, April 22nd and it’s the 45th Anniversary of the very first Earth Day — originally conceived as an environmental teach-in day and when 20 million Americans stepped “into the spring sunshine for peaceful demonstrations in favor of environmental reform.” This was a heady time in the United States for the environmental movement; within the next 6 years that followed, landmark environmental protection laws such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Endangered Species Act, Toxic Substances Control Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act were enacted. In 1990, one year after Friends of Trees was founded, “Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage. Earth Day 1990 gave a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.”

Even if you celebrate the natural world every day, Earth Day, or even Earth Week, offers everyone an opportunity to boost and re-commit their support for environmental causes. Celebrate Earth Day and Earth Week by supporting Friends of Trees:

  • Consider making a donation to Friends of Trees. We are a member-based organization and our work is funded by supporters like you. Just last weekend, we distributed almost 1,000 young fruit trees to residents in the Portland-Vancouver metro region during our annual Fruit Tree Giveaway when we raised over $6,000 from voluntary donations for each tree.
  • Support the dozens of local businesses who pledge their support to help Friends of Trees do the work we do. Our Friends of Trees Days campaign engages with businesses who are doing their part to help support Friends of Trees through various promotions over the course of this week or this month.
  • Learn more HERE about all of the different ways you can volunteer with us throughout the year — we have a professional staff waiting to find out how you are most excited to get involved.

The tools for change are right here.

Whatever your view of our current state of affairs, one thing is sure: planting trees makes a big difference. Thank you for your support!

- Andy Meeks is the Development Manager with Friends of Trees.

Fruit Tree Giveaway: The Details

Posted on April 15, 2015 at 1:43 pm

Our annual Fruit Tree Giveaway is April 18, beginning at 10 a.m. While the name of the event is a bit of a

Harvest Pears in your yard

Harvest pears from your very own yard by starting with these bare-root trees.

misnomer, in that we’re suggesting a donation of $5 per fruit tree and for people stopping by the FoT headquarters at 3117 NE Martin Luther King Blvd in Portland, there’ll be more than just apple, pear, or plum to choose from.

On Saturday we’ll also be selling an odd mishmash of canceled orders, nursery extras, and wayward trees that for whatever reason we weren’t able to plant this season. Species include Butterflies Magnolia, Victoria Magnolia, Douglas-fir, Tuliptrees, Crepe Myrtle, and other varieties. As with the fruit trees, availability is limited, but the cost on these non-fruit trees will be close to wholesale, $25-75 per tree, with some exceptions. If you’re interested in one of these high-quality tree from a partner nursery, come early and be flexible on what you’ll be planting.

Any of these will look good in your yard

Any of these will look good in your yard.

Cash, check or credit card accepted on this one-day only event. We hope to see you there!

We Won an Arbor Day Award

Posted on April 8, 2015 at 2:13 pm

Thank you to the Arbor Day Foundation for the recognition and thanks to our volunteers and supporters who help us plant trees. The Press Release from the Arbor Day Foundation is follows: 

Friends of Trees Receives 2015 Arbor Day Award

Nebraska City, Neb. (April 2, 2015) – Friends of Trees is the recipient of a 2015 Arbor Day Award in honor of its outstanding contribution to tree planting, conservation and stewardship, the Arbor Day Foundation announced today.

Friends of Trees, headquartered in Portland, Ore., is one of 13 individuals, organizations and companies being recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation during the annual Arbor Day Awards. This year’s ceremony will be held at Lied Lodge & Conference Center, located at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, Nebraska, on Saturday, April 25.

Friends of Trees will receive the Excellence in Partnership Award in recognition of its innovative and strategic collaboration to advance forestry efforts.

Friends of Trees develops programs in partnership with the private and public sectors, communities, and individuals to maintain a healthy environment through sustaining urban and rural forests. Friends of Trees has effectively facilitated tree planting partnerships for more than two decades.

Since 1972, the Arbor Day Foundation has recognized the inspiring and life-changing work of leading environmental stewards and tree planters through the annual Arbor Day Awards.

Award winners from previous years include the late Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, the United States Forest Service, and Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

About the Arbor Day Foundation: The Arbor Day Foundation is a million member nonprofit conservation and education organization with the mission to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. More information is available at