Hi I’m your friendly neighborhood Assistant Crew Leader at Friends of Trees…

Wrapping up our 29th planting season with Friends of Trees (FOT) this year, volunteers and staff were able to tie a pretty ribbon on what I call another successful season of urban/natural tree restoration efforts. We had plenty of not so new volunteers continue to serve in a leadership role with FOT. But for those who are new or “Rookies” as some would call them. I wanted to dig a little deeper into why those newly trained Assistant Crew Leaders (ACLs)  joined our awesome FOT team this season. I had the honor to interview two awesome volunteers who share the ACL role with us, those folks are known as Sam Garcia (SG) and Joey Desilva (JD). I was able to ask them a few questions about their experience with us and why they got involved in this leadership role! Check out what they had to say below:

What motivated you to join Friends of Trees as a Crew Leader this year?

SGI was motivated to join Friends of Trees as a Crew Leader this year because I realized that after studying environmental planning in grad school for so long, I hadn’t ever really had the opportunity to actually plant a tree! After graduating with a little more time on my hands, I wanted to continue my understanding of urban forestry, from a different perspective we don’t always get to experience in the classroom.


JDMy 2nd experience with Friends of Trees was a Neighborhood Planting that took place out in Beaverton and was led by Neighborhood Trees staff member, Rudy Roquemore.  Rudy was a great inspiration and I really enjoyed working with him. I took on the role of just kind of moving from group to group and helping where help was needed as there was a fair amount of people in each group.  I had a similar experience with Green Space staff member, Max Showers for my first planting, which was a Green Space event in Tualatin. I have a background in management so have a lot of experience leading groups of people and I felt that becoming a crew leader would make the best use of my volunteer hours.  It also gave me the opportunity to work with a larger variety of people. Moving forward, I will likely train for a crew leader role for Green Space as well.


Do you have a memorable Crew Leader moment?

SGYes. I remember one time I helped lead a church youth group. Hearing the leaders of the youth group ask really reflective questions to the students throughout the planting linking faith and their care for the Earth was really inspiring. As a believer myself, I don’t always get to have the opportunities, I was happy to see other faith-based groups joining in on environmental issues.


JDI suppose my most memorable moment would be my first time out as an assistant crew leader.  At the time, I was enrolled in an Environmental Science class at Portland Community College and had organized a group of classmates for this event as an extra credit for our class.  While out planting, our truck broke down (battery died but we thought it was something else) so one of my classmates and I carried the last two trees to the final planting spot. We later determined that it was just the battery, which was fixed with a jump-start. 

Other truly memorable experience was at a Green Space planting in Tigard with a group of Cub Scouts as I really enjoy working with children and seeing how much fun they were having with the experience.


What is one thing you like about leading volunteers as a Crew Leader?

SGI enjoy seeing people really begin to see themselves as environmentalists in their own right. Being able to lead diverse groups from all walks an cultures of life has reminded me that, just like me recently, we all have the agency to help our earth, and the green movement doesn’t just belong to a select few. By teaching others to plant one tree, I believe you actually plant a seed in the lives of people that will continue to grow and influence change for our world’s most pressing climate issues.


JD– I enjoy structure and detail and really like to teach.  I have been considering a career in education, possible an outdoor school of sorts…


Any inspiration for folks who might be considering this role? or why should someone take the plunge and become a Crew leader with us?

SGTake the plunge! You will learn so much, and be supported well along the way! There are so many opportunities to grow, learn, and contribute to the urban canopy of our city. You won’t regret it!


JDI highly recommend becoming a crew leader.  It is a great way to expand your social network and interact with a diverse group of wonderful people, and be part of a fantastic organization while gaining experience in a leadership role.


As you can read, our ACL’s have lots of fun working with our FOT team and community members. They are truly the folks who are at the forefront of our tree planting efforts,  helping lead our volunteers to make our community Healthy and Green. If you are excited as I am for our next planting season or our next Crew Leader training. Check out our event calendar and our Crew Leader role while we wait for the Fall colors to arrive once again.


Pablo Brito works with the Volunteer and Outreach program at Friends of Trees.