David Douglas students shine for Friends of Trees

FOT and David Douglas High staff recognized the outstanding contribution of student volunteers 3/16/11
FOT and David Douglas High staff recognized the outstanding contribution of student volunteers, March 16, 2011. (Marius Ibuye)

By Andrew Land

Friends of Trees and students of David Douglas High School‘s English as a Second Language program continued to strengthen their bond during an awards ceremony yesterday afternoon. Kate Farrington of our Neighborhood Trees staff and I had the privilege of acknowledging the energy and enthusiasm these fine students (and their teachers) have added to three separate plantings this season.

As a group, they first attended our January 15th Lents and Powellhurst-Gilbert planting, where their presence had a palpably positive effect on several planting crews.  They enjoyed the experience so much that David Douglas staff members Anne Downing and Tyler Greene reached out to us and offered their support again for our January 29th Centennial, Mill Park, and Hazelwood planting.

Following that planting, we knew that a symbiotic relationship was brewing and invited them to help us one more time at our March 12th Argay, Parkrose, Parkrose Heights, Russell, Sumner, and Wilkes planting. Their presence was a particularly huge boon at that event given that we were short-handed there last year. We were thrilled to have far better human resources this season, and their group represented nearly one-third of the entire volunteer planting force that day.

The beauty of our recently-forged bond is that both Friends of Trees and David Douglas’ students and staff view one another with admiration. Although students and staff alike mentioned to me yesterday that they have loved coming to our plantings, we have been just as thankful that they are as supportive and dependable as they are, particularly since many are recent immigrants in need of help during their adjustment to life in a new country.

Representing such countries as Somalia, Burma, and The Congo, many come from refugee families with very limited resources.  They have been excellent ambassadors for their cultures who are already giving back to their new community. While they appreciate the opportunity to bond outside of the classroom, we have sincerely appreciated the service they are providing generations of Portlanders to come.

It will be a beautiful day when one among them is walking around this city with their own children and can point to a tall tree they planted as a teenager. We are so fortunate to have both newly transplanted trees and the support of David Douglas’ newly transplanted students.  May they grow to thrive side by side!

— Land is Volunteer & Outreach Specialist for Friends of Trees.