Campus ReLeaf engages UO students to plant trees + grow community

The streets around the University of Oregon are cooler, safer and greener thanks to the hundreds of trees planted through an ongoing community partnership between Friends of Trees Eugene and UO’s Holden Center.

Every season 40-50 student volunteers from the Holden Center join FOTE during Earth Week for a UO Day of Service, planting and caring for street trees in neighborhoods filled with UO student rentals—they’re literally greening their own backyards! (OK, front yards 😉 The student volunteers help plant 50 trees every year during this event, along with helping to care for previously planted trees.

“I’m really excited that these trees are near campus, so I can watch these trees I helped plant grow.” Dayton, Holden Center FOTE volunteer.

An added bonus of this partnership is that many of these trees play a role in how we consider climate change when choosing trees to plant. This area is part of FOTE’s climate adaptive plantings, where we plant and monitor species such as Blue oak, California black oak, and canyon live oak. These species are appropriate for the hotter summers and more severe weather that come with climate change and we’re actively measuring their performance toward helping us plan future plantings.

“I love this program! This event was one of my first experiences as an FOTE Crew Leader, while I was still a UO student. So this event is extra special to me now that I’m on FOTE staff, it’s so gratifying to see this partnership continue after so many years!” Taylor Glass, FOTE Volunteer & Program Specialist

UO’s Holden Center engages UO students in “activities to develop unique talents and leadership skills in order to affect positive change and engage our community” and involves a wide array of UO students. In fact, some Holden Center students volunteered as high school students with FOT events in the Portland area, and they chose to participate with FOTE as part of their Holden Center activities because of their earlier, positive FOT volunteer experience

There’s often some flair from students at these events. For instance, yellow & green duct tape are usually on hand to liven up tree stakes; and sometimes the trees are named, with favorites including, McDuck, Linden Tree Johnson, and Roger.

We often hear from Holden Center students that volunteering with us was the first time they ever held a shovel, or ever planted anything—pretty common feedback from volunteers. And if our 32 years of community tree planting experience tell us anything, for many of these students, it’s just the beginning of a green path.

Get involved with trees + community in Eugene! Details here.

Photo: UO Holden Center student volunteers.