Volunteer Spotlight: hello JP!
An incredibly challenging planting season has come to a close and we are indebted to many people who went above and beyond to help make sure 21,000 trees + native shrubs were planted. We’ll be highlighting a few of these folks over the coming months, volunteers who really made a difference, despite the obstacles.
JP Perrine (they/them) started volunteering in Fall 2016 after they moved to Portland, and has been a force to be reckoned with ever since. In JP’s own words:
“I’d moved from Iowa, one of the most deforested states in the country, and I’d chosen to relocate to Oregon in part because of the bounty of forest cover here. I felt so deeply appreciative to have access to so much urban canopy, and I wanted to help ensure that other folks here have access to green spaces. As a newly minted Oregonian, volunteering was also a great way to get my bearings, to meet people from all over the Portland metro area, and to learn about the many local groups involved in habitat restoration and environmental health.
“I joined as a Crew Leader because I love helping people learn and creating welcoming spaces. This year, since plantings have mostly included only FOT staff and Crew Leaders, instead of checking in with volunteers, I’ve mostly been just digging in and planting trees. It’s a very different experience, but it’s helped me be more present and in the moment, enjoying the feel of the dirt, the birdsong, the burble of nearby creeks, the occasional startled wildlife (hello, snakes!), and even sometimes the rain and swampy ground!
“One of my favorite memories was planting at Memorial Park in Wilsonville in December. We were mostly planting understory in an existing forest, and I was delighted to discover that the trees in that forest had been planted by FOT volunteers only a decade or two ago. It was inspiring to see how much change had happened in a relatively short period of time, and it helped me envision what the fields where I’ve planted would look like in years to come. And it was equally inspiring to be planting alongside people who’d put some of those first trees in the ground!”
Do you have any advice for other Crew Leaders?
“At pre-COVID plantings, one of the things I emphasized most during the Crew huddles was that every volunteer should go at their own pace and take as many breaks as they wanted or needed to. Breaks to drink water, to eat a snack, to warm up, to switch out wet gloves for dry ones, to chat with other volunteers. But this year at the first few events, without a crew to check in with, I turned into a nonstop planting machine … which was fun until my body reminded me that I have been sitting a lot more than usual during this COVID year, and that I was suddenly planting way more than I usually did! Plantings have been much more fun since I’ve reminded myself to follow my own advice: take a break, drink some water, grab a snack, find a secluded spot to take a mask-off breather, go see how the other Crew Leaders are faring, enjoy being outside on a Saturday morning.”
Planting manager, Harrison Layer, agrees, “When I think of JP, I think of someone who is dedicated to the task at hand and someone who sees through the varied scenarios that can be presented in a day (like chipping through bundles of bareroot plants on steep hillsides or planting water-loving plants in a splashy wetland—just some examples that come to mind!). I also think of JP as someone who isn’t too serious to laugh or share a story, either. Glad to work with them when I get the opportunity to do so! :^)”
Thank you, JP, for offering your insatiable energy, integrity, and wisdom. As Harrison says, volunteers and staff alike are glad to work with you whenever we get the opportunity!
Photo: That’s JP on the left, with former FOT Urban Forestry intern Alvey on the right.