Beneath the Bark

Fun Facts, Tree Team Tidbits and Staff Secrets

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Kathy Armstrong (She/Her)

What do you do at Friends of Trees?
As the Development & Communications Director, I spread the good word about trees + community in a variety of ways for a variety of audiences. I also provide the community with different options to donate to Friends of Trees, so we can continue and grow this unparalleled programming that greens our region and grows community.

What is your favorite pastime?
Gardening; relaxing in warm sunny locations next to or on a lovely body of water with friends and family.

What is your favorite tree?
Currently my favorite tree is the fig tree that is fruiting so incredibly in my front yard right now (I think it’s an Italian honey fig, but it’s from a plant swap so, really, who knows?). Not only do I LOVE the fruit, I love that it’s so easy to carve out the shoots to grow new fig trees; this is how I got this tree and so far this tree has provided 4 new fig trees for friends.

If you could teach one class what would it be?
How to make pesto –  it’s easy to get creative and it’s always delicious!

Carey

Carey Aroonsuck (She/Her)

What do you do at Friends of Trees?
My days are filled with a lovely cocktail of volunteer communication, @salesforceorg database mgmt & reporting, operations administration, and giving each office dog plenty of attention. I’ve been here since 2015 and no two days have been the same!

What is your favorite pastime?
I grew up playing sports and being crafty, so anytime I can rev-up my body or mind–be it a tough workout or complex sewing project–it always rejuvenates me.

Do you have a planting secret?
If you’re lazy with your tree planting fashion like me, try to snag a pair of rain pants and boots you can leave in your car. I hose these down as-needed instead of having to rinse/wash them in a separate wash cycle each time I use them! Anyone who shares your washing machine will thank you, too.

If you could teach one class what would it be?
After working myself out of a mountain of debt, I would love to pass along my lessons-learned in a money mgmt class that caters to the individual’s lifestyle–nurturing a positive relationship with money that supports their wildest goals.

Jenny's Tree! — with Jenny Bedell-Stiles.

Jenny Bedell-Stiles (She/Her)

What do you do at Friends of Trees?
I’m the Volunteer & Outreach Manager. I started volunteering with Friends of Trees in elementary school and have been on staff for 8 years now! (you know what they say about time flying…). I spend my time on volunteer recruitment and retention, which in brief means lots of communication connecting volunteers with the needs of our planting programs. FOT’s maitre d’ of volunteer opportunities, at your service!

What is your favorite pastime?
Sunshine, reading, wild food foraging, sleeping in my tent as many nights of the year as I can, and gardening with my cat.

What is your favorite icebreaker?
What’s your favorite smell?

What’s your favorite tree?
Pacific Yew

What is your favorite FOT potluck dish?
Sochetra’s lemon bars.

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Ian Bonham (He/Him)

What do you do at Friends of Trees?
My favorite bits are getting to plan and implement some really fun neighborhood tree planting projects with volunteers and organizing our door-to-door efforts with an incredible outreach team who actually show folks where they have room to plant trees at their homes. And hey, I even get to plant a tree every now and then.

What is your favorite pastime?
I feel like I’m at summer camp every time July comes in Oregon. I’m fortunate to have means to get out to nature and do plenty of river dipping and forest bathing.

What is your favorite tree?
It changes a lot, but I always come back to the Ponderosa Pine. I love those long needles, the sunlight through the branches, and that amazingly beautiful vanilla scented puzzle bark. I also just love hanging out with it on the dry side of the Cascades — where I appreciate how that thick bark can usually protect it from forest fires, often surviving to help the forests regrow. What an amazing example of adaptation!

If you could teach one class what would it be?
I’m a big fan of summer camp arts and crafts and love a good hanging plant but I have a pretty short attention span. So, “Let’s make a macrame plant hanger in 30 minutes!” is my class.

 

Erik

Erik Burke (He/Him)

What do you do at Friends of Trees?
I’m the Eugene director so I do a little bit of everything; fundraising, planting, pruning, planning, answering phones, communication, education.

What is your favorite pastime?
Gardening, hiking, working on forestland.

What’s your favorite tree?
I love west coast native sclerophyllous trees like madrone, chinkapin, OR myrtle, live oaks, toyon and others. Madrone is my favorite. Love to see them in full bloom in late April around our city.

If you could teach one class what would it be?
I would teach a class on traditional and modern uses of city plants and animals.

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Sam Erman (He/Him)

What do you do at Friends of Trees?
I’m the Corporate & Business Relations Specialist. I help businesses give back to the community through mutually beneficial partnerships.

What is your favorite pastime?
Riding bicycles in the sunshine!

What is your favorite FOT potluck recipe?
Zesty hummus:
2 cans of garbanzo beans
half a lemon
2 garlic cloves
healthy amount of olive oil
salt to taste
optional: 1 pinch of za’atar for topping

Combine in blender, blend, add more olive oil for smoother consistency and lemon to taste. Once plated scoop top, fill with 2 tbs of olive oil and sprinkle top with za’atar

Taylor

Taylor Glass (She/Her)

What do you do at Friends of Trees?
Manage our office’s volunteer and outreach program, dev work, site inspections, data entry, planting, tree maintenance, watering, office/admin upkeep, social media, internships, and the list goes on~

What is your favorite pastime?
Baking, art, crafting, making music playlists, gardening, board games, D&D

What’s your favorite tree?
One of my favorite Oregon native trees is Taxus brevifolia, or Pacific yew! It’s a beautiful evergreen conifer that is usually covered in lichen and moss.

If you could teach one class what would it be?
Art in the outdoors (at a park, on a hike, etc) – with a focus on environmental art, mixed media, & utilizing found items in nature

Kristina Kavonian (She/Her)

What do you do at Friends of Trees?
I am the NT Customer Service Specialist for Neighborhood Trees. I love helping our tree recipients and will more than likely be the person you talk to when you call into the office!

What is your favorite pastime?
I enjoy ceramics, foraging, tending to my apartment jungle, and exploring our great state.

What is your favorite tree?
My favorite tree is a well known decidous tree, the ginko tree. It’s unique, fan-shaped leaves turn a stunning yellow color in the fall (my favorite season!). It can tolerate many urban conditions including heat, air pollution, salt, and confined spaces, the seeds and leaves are still used as medicine today. It is a living fossil, the earliest leaf fossils dating from 270 million years ago!

If you could teach one class what would it be?
A sound bath class 🙂

Aliesje King (She/They)

What do you do at Friends of Trees?
I am the NT Program Manager. I have the honor of overseeing the NT Program: Collaborating with team members, supporting events and trainings, meeting with partners, cordinating schedules, & creating connections within communities.

What is your favorite pastime?
Playing outside, gardening, cooking, reading, & adventuring.

What is your favorite tree?
I really am having a hard time picking a favorite tree so I’ll name a few that always bring me a sense of place & deep connection: the (Oregon) White Oak, the Western Hemlock, Shore Pine, and Witch Hazel.

If you could teach one class what would it be?
Plant Based Cooking 101.

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Manuel Ku (He/Him)

What do you do at Friends of Trees?
I’m a Field Tech so I plant trees, prune trees, water the trees and I also line the trees.

What is your favorite pastime?
Outside of Friends of Trees I like to fix stuff around my place, spend time with my family and friends, and in the afternoons I always run with my wife while she walks with my dog.

What is your favorite tree?
My favorite tree is oak tree because it’s big and lasts longer than 100 years.

If you could teach one class what would it be?
If I could teach a class it would be to teach how to plant trees.

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Andrew Land (He/Him)

What do you do at Friends of Trees?
As a Neighborhood Trees Specialist I help coordinate volunteer planting events, ensure homeowners get the right tree for their space, and train our volunteer pruning leaders.

What is your favorite pastime?
Carpentry, gardening, music, basketball, cooking (eating)

What is your favorite tree?
My favorite tree is generally the willow oak, though I love O.W.O.s, pacific madrones, dawn redwoods, bald cypresses, and among the exotics the Antarctic beech and Chinese fig hazel are way up there these days.

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Harrison Layer (He/Him)

What do you do at Friends of Trees?
I organize and lead volunteer plantings and work closely with project partners at Portland Opportunities & Industrialization Center and Rosemary Anderson High School (POIC/RAHS) in providing leadership training and job skills development in the natural resources field. I also work a great deal in Washington County; focusing on leading youth water quality field trips as well as planning & implementing restoration projects on public and private properties along creeks and rivers.

What is your favorite pastime?
I particularly enjoy making people laugh, eating lettuce & tomato sandwiches, reading about public transit projects in the making, listening to old time folk tunes, learning about river ecology, and watching feminist film.

What is your favorite tree?
One of my favorite trees is American Beech or Fagus grandiflora- for its smooth bark, cool beech nuts, and high canopy.

If you could teach a class, what would it be?
I would share 10 of my favorite infographics and have a roundtable discussion about them. “A good map brings up more questions than answers”

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Adam Marx (He/Him)

What do you do at Friends of Trees?
I am one of the Field Techs for NT, so I dig holes, install root barriers, water, mulch, and prune trees, and help at our planting events. When I am not in the field, I work with Friends of Trees maps and data.

What is your favorite pastime?
I like gardening, running, backpacking, cat appreciating, and games of all kinds, from video games to board games to D&D.

What is your favorite tree?
My favorite tree is the fig. It loves Portland’s mild wet winters and dry hot-enough summers. It is attractive, drought tolerant, pest and disease resistant, forgiving of inexpert pruning, and produces abundant delicious fruit. It is even easy to rake its big leaves in the fall. It is the perfect tree for lazy people like me.

If you could teach one class what would it be?
I don’t know if anyone would take it, but I would happily teach a silence appreciation class.

Colin May (He/Him)

What do you do at Friends of Trees?
I am the Communications Manager. I create content for our newsletters, website, social media, and fundraising efforts. I see it as my job to tell the Friends of Trees story, expand our audience, and amplify voices that need to be heard.

What is your favorite pastime?
I watch a lot of movies, maybe too many. You can often find me at any of the Portland cinemas with a popcorn and a craft beer.

What is your favorite tree?
My favorite tree is the longleaf pine. The PNW has its share of epic pine trees for sure, but the longleaf pine savannas that historically stretched from Virginia to Texas hold a special place in my heart. The fire dependent longleaf pines are the keystone of a diverse community of wildlife, grasses, lilies and pitcher plants. Especially at dawn, a healthy longleaf pine savanna is something to behold.

If you could teach one class what would it be?
Front-country camping: gear, setup, and strategies to meet your goals, from lazing the days away in nature to setting a base for arduous excursions.

Steve Mayes (He/Him/His)

What do you do at Friends of Trees?
I am the Finance Manager, with the responsibility of identifying and implementing action plans regarding financial and/or accounting systems improvements and needs. I will also oversee and assume responsibility of all financial procedures and records. I’m a member of the managers team.

What is your favorite pastime?
Hot Tub/Spa, musing, music, reading, movies, cycling, hiking, sketching/painting, cooking, performance art.

What is your favorite tree?
It’s a toss up between stone pines & weeping willows.

If you could teach one class what would it be?
Table Tennis/Ping Pong

Volunteer Leadership Opportunities

Gabriel Mendez (He/Him)

Coming soon!!

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Haley Miller (She/Her)

What do you do at Friends of Trees?
Neighborhood Trees Senior Specialist – organize plantings throughout planting season and help to facilitate our summer tree inspector program

What is your favorite pastime?
Running on the Wildwood Trail in Forest Park!

Do you have any planting secrets?
Tree planting secret: when loosening up a root ball from a container stock tree: remove excess soil, mulch, etc over an extra piece of burlap. Makes for easier clean-up!

If you could teach one class what would it be?
Cooking with seasonal fresh produce / how to use you all your freshly harvested food from your garden and CSA share before your next harvest

Rudy

Rudy R. Roquemore II (He/Him)

What do you do at Friends of Trees?
I organize and assist with neighborhood plantings in Portland and Beaverton, manage BES contract that funds all of our Portland-based NT work, help lead and facilitate partnerships with CBO’s, and am a member of our EDI committee.

What is your favorite pastime?
Playing music, basketball, and exploring nature.

Do you have a tree planting tip?
Learned this from our coworker Manuel…when dealing with container trees, its much easier to roll the tree along the circumference of the bottom of the pot rather than picking the whole thing up!

If you could teach one class what would it be?
Teaching youth about budgeting and saving money in a practical way. Informal and meant to be easily digested to limit fear and maximize impact.

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Christine Smith (She/Her)

What do you do at Friends of Trees?
I am a Neighborhood Trees Specialist. I help residents get trees for their yards and streets and assist with maintaining them. I also plan and lead planting and tree care events for communities.

What is your favorite pastime?
I love hiking, biking, camping, backpacking, dancing to live music, and submerging in bodies of water. I love to try all the vegan food in Portland that I can. I enjoy looking for wildfowers and working on identifying them.

What is your ice breaker?
My favorite ice breaker is about bucket lists. I have everyone think of one item on their bucket list then pick one letter to repesent that bucket list item. Then they need to think of a way to share that letter with everyone else without talking. Everyone lines up in alphabetical order without talking. Everyone shares their bucket list item out loud once they are in order 🙂

If you could teach one class what would it be?
It’s All About the Water: the exploration of the joys and life water brings to living things

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Aliya Smyth (She/Her)

What do you do at Friends of Trees?
I just started as a Development Specialist. I am working on Salesforce database management and reporting, donor communications, and supporting the Development and Communications team in many different ways!

What is your favorite pastime?
Exploring the forest and the beach with my family, learning about plants, biking around Portland, camping on the coast, discovering new parks and plantlife with my kids (Benjamin and Odin), travel, gardening, and listening to audiobooks while doing my at-home workouts.

What is your favorite tree?
I have always been in awe of the Giant Sequoia. When I first moved to the Pacific Northwest I couldn’t get over how magical they are. Their pinecones are so unique! I also love Oak trees and Maple trees!

If you could teach one class what would it be?
Barre Cardio…its fun and also a challenge!

Becca

Becca Snowdale (She/Her)

What do you do at Friends of Trees?
Mostly field work, but I do dabble in social media, data entry, and outreach & education. I take care of nursery pickups (usually with Jeff), planting, pruning, a portion of our summer watering obligations, summer tree care (mulching, fixing stakes, etc.), tree issues, site inspections, opt out scouting, and occasionally some tabling and presentations.

What is your favorite pastime?
Climbing trees, foraging, cooking, lifting weights, rubbing Vera’s big furry tummy.

What’s your favorite ice breaker?
What’s your favorite cereal?

If you could teach one class what would it be?
I’d love to teach a class on identifying, harvesting, and processing foods that come from trees in the urban forest and their natural and cultural histories.

Armani Thomas (He/His)

What do you do at Friends of Trees?
I am a Neighborhood Trees Specialist. I help residents get trees for their yards and streets and assist with maintaining them. I also plan and lead planting and tree care events for communities.

What is your favorite pastime?
Running, Trying new restaurants, collecting and listening to vinyl records

What’s your favorite tree?
My favorite tree is the Bald Cypress, it has been a tree that has always stood out to me when I first started planting trees in the Midwest, and still does now that I live in the PNW. My tree planting tip is to plant with intention, look at your surroundings and think about the longevity of the trees life before planting it. Also doesn’t hurt to whisper a little prayer for the tree as it goes into the ground.

If you could teach one class what would it be?
Tips on how to run your first marathon

Yashar Feb 2021

Yashar Vasef  (He/Him)

What do you do at Friends of Trees?
I am the Executive Director. In this role, I work to ensure we are effectively addressing the needs of the various communities we engage, understand our impact, identify growth opportunities, and assure the general health of the organization.

What is your favorite pastime?
Propagating plants, cuddling with my kittens, getting to a campsite by foot or on two wheels, watching Star Trek, cooking Persian food, traveling, and more!

If you could teach one class what would it be?
Camping by Bicycle 101

Litzy and Vincent

Litzy Venturi (She/Her)

What do you do at Friends of Trees?
I coordinate plantings, help facilitate the Summer Inspector program and crunch monitoring data from summer inspections, coordinate pruning events, train new Crew Leaders, and am a member of our EDI Commitee. Having started as a volunteer crew leader and gone on to be a FOT canvasser before coming on as full time, I have greatly enjoyed my 81/2 years with FOT!

What is your favorite pastime?
I like to exercise with my dog, observe trees and shrubs, read about plants and birds, visit the ocean or the redwoods, talk to my family, draw, ride my bike, and outdoor skate.

If you could teach one class what would it be?
I would teach interpretive dances based on how different birds forage.

Meng

Meng Vue (He/His)

What do you do at Friends of Trees?
I am a Green Space Specialist and plan volunteer planting events around habitat enhancement and maintenance throughout the Portland metro area. I also work with a couple youth programs to get students exposed to green spaces green section jobs.

What is your favorite pastime?
I like birding and enjoy finding hidden birding spots in urban areas. I also like backpacking, camping, gardening and biking.

What’s your favorite tree?

I grew up near the Redwoods so my favorite tree is the Costal Redwood.

If you could teach one class what would it be?
Keep Your Eyes to the Sky: Astronomy for Beginners

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Michelle Yasutake (She/Her)

What do you do at Friends of Trees?
I’m Neighborhood Trees Specialist. I organize plantings throughout planting season and help to facilitate our summer tree inspector program.

What is your favorite pastime?
River-ing, birding, gardening, enjoying all things outdoors in the sunshine.

What is your favorite FOT potluck dish?
Crockpot Steel cut Oats! Pop it in the slow cooker before bed, and wake up to a hearty, healthy breakfast that will feed a crowd. A great alternative to the pastries and bagels. Plus it’s vegan and GF!

If you could teach one class what would it be?
Campfire cooking!