Build Trust, Make an Impact

Participants in the workforce training program

Our new EDI & Workforce Training Manager on community relationships

Our Adult Urban Forestry Workforce Training Program is a project with the power to change lives and build community. “It’s one of the more impactful things we’ve done, period,” says Rudy Roquemore, our new EDI & Workforce Training Manager.

Rudy is no stranger to Friends of Trees. He has worked in our Neighborhood Trees program since 2016. Always passionate about issues of equity, diversity and inclusion, he is the perfect fit to step into the role of EDI & Workforce Training Manager.

He brings to the role a philosophy of relationship building that seeks to be more equitable and less transactional. “When we work with an organization, it’s important to make sure we’re aligned in our goals,” Rudy says. “Build trust, then project plan.”

Rudy believes this sort of relationship allows for innovation and growth. We can more readily meet the needs of the organizations we work with, and together, do more thorough work. “The Adult Urban Forestry program has been a tangible way for us to visualize what that pathway can look like,” Rudy says.

The program enrolls adults in a ten-week urban forestry curriculum and places them in a 100-hour internship with Friends of Trees or an affiliated partner organization. The program, which is designed to engage communities underrepresented in the urban forestry and restoration field, empowers participants to attend by paying them for their time, and creates a pipeline to actual jobs.

“We can make trees relevant to people’s lives,” Rudy says, “by addressing and eliminating barriers to the green workforce. There is a lot of opportunity to grow this program and make a real impact.”

Over the years program partners have included Verde, APANO, Wisdom of the Elders, Rosemary Anderson High School-POIC, Black Parent Initiative, and the Blueprint Foundation. These organizations help select 10-15 program participants each year, who begin with classroom curriculum and field work, and proceed to paid internships.