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!
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.
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