The not-so-few, the very proud, the crew leaders

Crew Leader post cardThey’re always the first to arrive and they never leave a volunteer behind.

Friends of Trees’ Crew Leaders are an eclectic group with one thing in common:  They put community first.

“I love to be able to get outside and plant for the positive way this helps our environment and community,” said Julian Lawrence, a crew leader for both the Neighborhood Trees (NT) and Green Space Initiative (GSI) programs.

With the NT program gearing up to plant 5,000 street trees this season—a 100 percent increase from last year—and the GSI program looking to increase upon their 13,000 native trees and shrubs figure from last year, Friends of Trees is recruiting Portland’s elite for crew leader training.

So what does it take to become a Friends of Trees Crew Leader?

“A crew leader really just has to encourage and coordinate, and sort of follow through,” said Joy Olsen of Vancouver, whose husband, Ken, is also a crew leader.

Crew Leader vest
Crew leaders wear colored vests at plantings. (FOT file)

Olsen volunteered as a crew leader for the first time last year seeking “something physical with community-minded people”  and said because Friends of Trees’ plantings are so organized, volunteers leave feeling appreciated and like their time was well spent.

Crew leaders commit to helping at three or more plantings during the season and manage everything that happens between the pre-planting breakfast and the post-planting potluck.

“I teach people how to plant trees safely so they’ll grow,” summarized long-time crew leader Karen Williams of Eastmoreland, who added that she often deputizes other volunteers by the end of plantings.

All the crew leaders reiterated the common mantra of fun and safety, and the importance of promoting both at the plantings; however, their reasons for coming back every year were more varied.

“I also like the opportunity to teach volunteers about the natural world around us,” said Lawrence.

“Since (crew leaders) work together multiple times each season, we have many opportunities to get to know each other…”

Matt Moore, one of several crew leaders employed at Portland Energy Conservation, Inc., said he likes Friends of Trees because it really creates a unique city.

“One of the things I really love about Portland is how woodsy it is, even just downtown and the neighborhoods,” Moore said.

“When I go away and visit other cities and come back, it’s such a noticeable feature.”

“As time has gone on, I guess we’ve kind of drunk the Kool-Aid…” added Olsen, “I think it’s because we enjoy the group and we really feel like trees are important.”

For information on how to sign-up to be a crew leader, or more details on the no-experience-necessary position, contact Greg Tudor at [email protected], 503-282-8846 ext. 12,  or Andy Meeks at [email protected], 503-282-8846 ext. 24.

–Toshio Suzuki