Partnering for jobs and opportunity with Verde

“It’s really partnerships like the one we enjoy with Friends of Trees that have made Verde’s social enterprise model possible. Partnerships like this have allowed our program to provide living wage jobs with benefits and training opportunities to many low-income and people of color living in the Portland area.” –Ricardo Moreno, Verde Builds Manager

As we celebrate 30 years of trees + community, we must also celebrate our incredible partners who step in to support wherever a helping hand is needed most.

During this season’s  icy & snowy conditions we took a deep breath knowing that even with event cancellations, our partners at Verde Northwest would be there to save the day.

Verde serves communities by building environmental wealth through social enterprise, outreach, and advocacy.  Since 2005, Verde has brought new environmental investments to Portland’s neighborhoods; involved community members in the planning and building of these investments; and has helped ensure that low-income people and people of color directly benefit from investments in greenspaces, habitat, energy efficiency and renewable energy, green streets, stormwater management facilities, environmental education, green jobs, and green businesses.

“It’s hard to believe but this year marks the 10th anniversary of Verde and Friends of Trees partnership. I vividly remember the winter of 2009 when Verde Landscape received its first tree planting assignment on commercial sites from Friends of Trees. It was all very new to us and I personally felt a bit intimidated by it, but with the help and training we received from our great partners and friends at Friends of Trees, planting trees in the Portland Metro area quickly became one of Verde Landscape’s favorite activities and now we’re proud to say that Verde has helped Friends of Trees plant thousands of trees all over Portland.

“It’s really partnerships like the one we enjoy with Friends of Trees that have made Verde’s social enterprise model possible. Partnerships like this have allowed our program to provide living wage jobs with benefits and training opportunities to many low-income and people of color living in the Portland area. Our program also provides opportunities for our crew members to transition to higher paying jobs, not only within Verde but also with other local organizations. This program also creates pathways to job opportunities that connect them to the natural environment and restore landscapes in the neighborhoods they live in, typically neighborhoods that lack the environmental benefits of Portland’s inner neighborhoods.”  -Ricardo Moreno, Verde Builds Manager (Previously Verde Landscape Manager)

When we cancel a planting due to the weather, the impacts are huge! Volunteers must be contacted, trees re-routed, food donations put on hold, donuts grow old … the list goes on. Hundreds of phone calls must be made and our team works diligently until every last detail has been taken care of.

Some events can be rescheduled, but others are just too complex to allow us that flexibility.  In these cases, with financial support from our partners at The City of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services, our friends at Verde plant the trees that were otherwise unable to be planted in Portland. They come to the office, pick up the trees, and off they go.  This partnership allows us to refocus on the next big event, while getting trees into the ground as soon as possible.

Another highlight of working with Verde was the A New Forest Grows collaborative that planted more than 4,000 trees along the I-205 multi-use path to create a green buffer for pedestrians, cyclists, and the neighboring communities. Verde worked diligently to support the trees in these challenging sites with water and care. This partnership with MetroODOT, and Verde has become a model for other projects and will continue to provide benefits for years to come.

Recently, Verde has also partnered with Friends of Trees to strengthen our Adult Urban Forestry Training Program (made possible thanks to funding from East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District). Verde nominated four individuals from their network to participate in our paid training and internship program this past  fall and winter. This program provides networking and exposure to jobs in the environmental field, particularly in urban forestry and restoration work. Verde is also hosting an intern at their location through this partnership.

“I truly admire the work that Friends of Trees has done through all these years by bringing community together and making our spaces greener, healthier and more beautiful. I’m honored to have been a part of this great partnership and I look forward to many more years of working and collaborating together for the well-being of our communities and our environment.” –Ricardo Moreno

Do you have a tree story?

We’re looking for great stories about your tree or your tree planting experience

Thirty years = A LOT of trees, and a lot of tree stories. We’d love to hear yours.

Trees are often witness to or part of life’s milestones, such as anniversaries, births, proposals, commemorations. Trees are always there, growing and changing as we grow and change.

Do you have a tree at your home planted with Friends of Trees? How has that tree played a role in your family, during time in your home, in your life? Did you have an unforgettable planting experience with us, perhaps for a special occasion or in honor of a special person?

Trees are amazing and they are part of amazing stories. Do you have an amazing or heartwarming or special tree story about a Friends of Trees tree or tree-planting experience? We’d love to hear it, please contact Kathy Armstrong (kathya@friendsoftrees.org; 503-467-2512) with your tree story. Thank you!

Join the Tree Team–be a Crew Leader!

“I have a few favorite things about crew leading. One, I get to interact with all kinds of different people; two, I get so many positive remarks and thank you-s for making people so happy—all because I’m wearing a colored vest that associates me with a great cause.” –Ryan, Friends of Trees Crew Leader

If you’ve planted trees with us, then you’ve met a Crew Leader. Crew Leaders are the friendly, knowledgeable folks who teach our volunteer tree-planters how to properly plant trees and use tools, and they’re your #1 go-to for help and questions at a Friends of Trees planting event.

Crew Leader is a key leadership position with Friends of Trees, and is ideal for people who love planting with Friends of Trees and who want to do a bit more. As a Crew Leader you gain valuable leadership skills and lots of tree knowledge! Plus, you get to spend a lot of time outside and you’ll meet an awesome assortment of new people.

So, ready to try something new? We train Crew Leaders every season and our fall trainings are coming up—Join us!

Get to know our partners: Sandy River Watershed Council

15,000+ trees, shrubs & native wildflowers planted with 1,755 volunteers since 2013

“We couldn’t restore the Delta, or do it with such broad community involvement, without Friends of Trees. You bring the know-how, the Crew Leaders, plants and people together to make it fun and effective, ahorita tambien en Español.”

-Steve Wise, Executive Director, Sandy River Watershed Council

Thanks to a five-year partnership between Friends of Trees and the Sandy River Watershed Council, public land that had been cleared for cattle ranching is now being reforested, creating habitat and improving air & water quality. This work benefits humans in other ways, too, since the 5-6 planting events we administer every season also help to restore the tree canopy in one of the most diverse parts of Multnomah County, bringing all the benefits of trees to thousands of east county residents.

Friends of Trees (whose executive director Scott Fogarty serves on the Sandy River Watershed Council) and the Council work together to plan a growing number of planting and stewardship events at the Delta, including choosing planting sites, plant selection, volunteer recruitment, group coordination … and more!

This partnership has some really interesting features:

  • Young people. For three years now this site has hosted hundreds of young tree planters every season through educational programming jointly administered by FOT and SRWC. Youth involvement includes our program for elementary through high schooler students who participate annually in educational walks combined with fieldwork, where older students mentor the younger ones (500 students this year alone!); plus, youth volunteer with the scores of school and community groups that come out for our Saturday tree plantings every season.
  • Portland Trail Blazers & Daimler Trucks North America. A few years ago we heard from a representative of Paul Allen (owner of the Portland Trail Blazers, among other endeavors) that Mr. Allen was interested in a partnership that could benefit his interest in healthy oceans. The removal of three dams on the Sandy River resulted in renewed wild salmon runs, reconnecting the Sandy’s aquatic link to the ocean. And what contributes to a cleaner, healthier Sandy River for all those salmon? Trees. How to tie this in with Allen’s Trail Blazers? Threes for Trees. The Blazers and Daimler Trucks North America plant three trees for every three-pointer the Blazers make (even more during play-offs!), making the Blazers and DTNA our lead sponsors for Delta planting events.

This partnership also relies on other partners to get all these trees in the ground, including the US Forest Service; Friends of the Sandy River Delta; East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District; Metro; Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board; the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Climate Adaptation Fund; National; Forest Foundation; the Port of Portland; the Confluence Project; and thousands of volunteers and donors to Friends of Trees and the Sandy River Watershed Council.

Friends of Trees’ education programs get youth outside experiencing nature

Growing the next Tree Team generation
Our education program engages students of all ages

“I planted trees today with my class. I’ve never planted a tree before—I got dirty! I had fun and I want to come back on my own and plant trees again.”
-Aminah, age 14, Vancouver, middle school student

Every year Friends of Trees works with thousands of young people, engaging them with planting and caring for trees and natural areas in Oregon and Washington.

Youth engagement and helping to grow the next generation of tree-stewards and tree-huggers is critical to our mission. Through giving young people the tools to engage with the natural world, and providing information about the crucial role trees play in our region’s and our planet’s livability, Friends of Trees is helping to develop the environmental advocates and leaders of the future.

Friends of Trees’ education program actively and meaningfully connects youth of all ages with nature. We offer a classroom-based curriculum combined with field work, and we work with students from elementary school through high school. Our partners include Oregon Trail Elementary School, David Douglas High School, POIC/Rosemary Anderson High School, and the dozens of schools who send students to our community planting events every season. Curriculum topics address the importance of trees; different species and the benefits of native plants; stormwater management; rain garden design; riparian area restoration .. and more! Students get their hands dirty through actually planting and caring for trees; they work as teams toward a common goal and older students build leadership skills in the field.

Young people are using screens and media for an average of 9 hours a day, so it is vital that we offer opportunities to connect them with the natural world. Schools have fewer and fewer resources and Friends of Trees helps fill this gap. No matter the age, youth bring an excitement to planting day that creates memorable experiences for all participants. No one is too young to plant trees!

This is an excerpt from our November 2017 Treemail, read the entire issue here.