Friends of Trees volunteers honored at Vancouver Arbor Day celebration

By Andy Meeks

On Wednesday, April 11, Friends of Trees helped the City of Vancouver celebrate a fun and educational Arbor Day with a special appearance by our mascot Garry Oak. Mayor Tim Leavitt accepted Vancouver’s 23rd straight Tree City USA designation from the Arbor Day Foundation, and the chair of Vancouver’s Urban Forestry Commission, Jim Wasden, presented several members of the community with a special award for making a “significant, positive impact on Vancouver’s urban forest.'” Additionally, a Zelkova tree was planted at the new City Hall by students from Hough Elementary school.

The Mac awards are officially named the Gordon and Sylvia MacWilliams Evergreen Awards in honor of the couple’s contributions to the Vancouver community. As noted on the Vancouver-Clark Parks & Recreation web site, “Gordon and Sylvia are true tree heroes through their many contributions to our community, especially their impact on Vancouver’s Urban Forest.”

We’d like to extend our congratulations to all of the award winners, but we are especially proud that four of the recipients are longtime Friends of Trees volunteers:

  • Oliver Sasse and Bill Woodard are neighborhood coordinators in the Airport Green and Fisher’s Creek neighborhoods, respectively, and they each donate several dozen hours of their time each year to ensure successful Friends of Trees planting events in their neighborhoods.  Their success can be measured by the  more than 40 new street and yard trees planted in those neighborhoods each year.
  • Ken and Joy Olsen have been crew leaders with us since 2008 and over the course of their five planting seasons have led groups of volunteers at more than 20 planting events.  They cheerfully arrive at our staging sites at 8:15 am on Saturday mornings, regardless of the weather, and enthusiastically help teach planting volunteers the proper way to plant a tree.

As Oliver said in his acceptance speech to students from Hough Elementary:  “[t]hey live and die, just like people do — but during their lifetimes, they give back […] I want to look to you, the future, to plant trees.”

Friends of Trees has been actively involved in planting trees in Vancouver for ten years and currently plants almost 400 trees at four different planting events each year between November and March.

– Meeks is the Volunteer & Outreach Program Manager for Friends of Trees.