Growth Rings

Become a Friends of Trees Volunteer Crew Leader

Posted on September 24, 2015 at 10:33 am

By Matt Pizzuti, volunteer Crew Leader for the Green Space Program

  • Do you want to develop leadership skills?

  • Improve the natural environment in your community?

  • Spend some time each Saturday getting to know some friendly and inspirational people?

  • Learn more about trees, native plants, and how to help make your community green?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, becoming a Friends Of Trees Volunteer Crew Leader could be the right fit for you! Continue reading to learn more about being a Crew Leader and how to join our team of dedicated, fun, and friendly individuals. Together, we can lead our community to a healthier, happier and greener future!

Matt, far right, Crew Leading at a Green Space event.

Matt, far right, Crew Leading at a Green Space event.

Why Friends of Trees Needs Crew Leaders

Every year, Friends of Trees hosts many dozens of planting events — several per weekend through planting season — and plants tens of thousands of trees and shrubs. With a small staff, almost all the planting is done by volunteers, many of whom are new to planting trees. Friends of Trees also exists to build community and educate the public about trees, and that work couldn’t get done without Crew Leaders as go-betweens to teach volunteers and answer their questions.

Portland-Vancouver / Eugene / Salem

Considering Crew Leading? As a Crew Leader, you have the opportunity to join our stellar group for one or both of our outstanding programs. We offer our Green Space Program and our Neighborhood Trees Program. Keep reading to learn more about both programs and determine which one is right for you!


More on the Green Space Program

The Northwest is covered with outdoor spaces where, although they are open space, the impact of human encroachment is still all too apparent. They are corners of parks and greenbelts where vegetation is trampled or disturbed, or riparian zones where invasive species have choked out native plants. As more and more local land is taken up by development, these protected green areas in and around the city are extremely important habitat for wildlife as well as flood and pollution control.

With our ever-improving understanding of these urban-boundary ecosystems, Friends of Trees is one organization restoring local watersheds by planting native shrubs and trees. As a Crew Leader, you’ll get special training in plant identification, planting techniques and troubleshooting. You’ll lead crews that plant hundreds of baby trees, beautifying these spaces and offering them back to the wilderness.


More on the Neighborhood Trees Program

Friends of Trees’ most visible work in urban areas is promoting and planting the yard and streetside trees that you’ve probably noticed in your area with Friends of Trees tags on them. Urban trees bring numerous benefits you can enjoy directly when they’re growing in your home or neighborhood, and this, too, is done through the leadership and support of Crew Leaders who can provide volunteers with direction and teach planting techniques. You’ll learn a lot about identifying and caring for trees and interact directly with communities.


Crew Leader, prepping trees with the help of other volunteers.

Neighborhood Trees Crew Leader, Amy, prepping trees with the help of other volunteers.

Benefits of Being a Crew Leader

Being Crew Leader is an easy way to quickly get some knowledge and experience with trees and plants, as well as some basic leadership experience with a lot of support from Friends of Trees staff. After a one-day training you’re ready to show up on planting days to greet your fellow crew leaders, enjoy free food, get your assigned plot and lead your volunteers as they arrive. Crew leading is also a great way to get some regular light exercise and take some photos to spread awareness of trees. For your first season (November-April), you’ll co-lead your crews with an experienced mentor while you learn the ropes.

Last year was my first season of Crew Leading with Friends Of Trees and I came to find something magical about each planting day, stepping outside in the near-total desolation of an early Saturday morning in urban Portland under an ashy-pink sky, with the sound of only birds and the cool feeling of crisp, misty air.

I’d pick up my planting buddies (there’s a convenient carpool list, and you can sign up to crew lead all the same planting events as a friend if you want) and head to the planting site, where I’d learn more about different areas in the region, meet some wonderful people, and plant literally hundreds of trees. It was such an enjoyable experience for me that this year I’m hoping to recruit a few more of my friends to come with me — I hope to see you there too!

Register today to save your spot! If you have any questions or need more information about this role, please don’t hesitate to contact Jenny & Randi in the Volunteer & Outreach Program at 503-595-0213 or by emailing We look forward to working with you!

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