CONNECTING YOUTH TO NATURE, JOB TRAINING FOR THE ENVIRONMENT: JUST A COUPLE OF ELEMENTS OF SOME AMAZING PARTNERSHIPS
What started as a group of neighbors planting trees together 32 years ago has grown into a true community-based organization engaged in a wide variety of partnerships. Friends of Trees’ partnerships contribute to environmental education for K-12 students; adult job training programs; paid internships connecting underserved communities to the urban forestry field; greening low canopy neighborhoods; and so much more.
“Thank you for letting us come and plant with you, it was a GREAT experience. I learned that planting trees keeps us healthy and alive. It was a great opportunity to learn and also to be outside.” Kara, 4th grade, Friends of Trees-Charles F. Tigard Elementary School partnership
“American children now spend an average of only four to seven minutes per day playing outdoors, compared with over seven hours per day in front of a screen.” 1 That alone justifies our work with more than 2,000 young people in a typical season.
Friends of Trees’ educational programming actively and meaningfully connects youth of all ages with nature. We’re in the classroom with information about the benefits of trees, and we’re outside, actively planting and caring for trees with young people. Our work with high school students includes leadership skill building and job training through paid internships. Some stories about our youth education partnerships are here.
“Partnering with Friends of Trees has helped teach Wisdom interns management skills; we learn how to manage a business, how to engage with business people, it prepares everybody for employment.” Alvey Seeyouma, Wisdom Workforce Development Program Coordinator and Crew Leader Supervisor
A growing partnership endeavor, our Adult Urban Forestry Program, includes as past and current partners APANO, POIC, Verde, Wisdom of the Elders, Blueprint Foundation, and the Black Parent Initiative. The program connects historically underserved community members with job training and internship opportunities in the urban forestry field, read more here.
Greening low-canopy neighborhoods is an ongoing priority for Friends of Trees, and our work with APANO and other partners on the Jade Greening Project helps address this in an equitable way. Low-canopy neighborhoods are often low-income and home to historically underserved communities. These neighborhoods, such as NE Portland’s Jade District, experience significant environmental health disparities, stemming from exposure to air toxins and lack of walk-ability/accessibility. The Jade Greening Project engaged Jade District residents in dialogue about community needs to ensure the greening and revitalization–and not the gentrification- of the Jade District.
This is not an exhaustive compilation of partners, and doesn’t even touch on the more than 1,000 groups that have planted with us over the years! We’ve hosted all the scouts, reunions, birthday celebrations, employer groups, college students, high school students, elementary school students … it’s truly inspiring to see how many groups of you celebrate milestones or learn or bond or just choose to get together through planting trees together. We can’t wait to welcome you all back again!
1 National Recreation and Park Association
photo: Rosemary Anderson HS POIC students at a recent planting event.
To all of our supporters,
Your support in 2020 meant that, despite unimaginable obstacles, we were still able to plant trees + grow community.
What a year.
So many people supported us in so many ways, it has often brought me to tears. Your commitment is real and I thank you for that.
Your support plants trees in neighborhoods and natural areas while bringing people together and building resilience in our communities.
We can’t do this without you!
Here’s to a tree-filled 2021,
Whitney Dorer, Interim Executive Director
PS: Plant trees with us! When we are planting we are doing so with a number of health and safety features in place to ensure our events are as safe as possible. Check out our events calendar for the latest information about our community tree planting events – and how to get involved!
More like multiple pivots, really. Just like trees though, flexibility to bend and not break in the storm is how we modeled ourselves this year. Despite canceling, postponing and downsizing many volunteer planting events due to the pandemic, in 2020 we still planted 38,000 trees and native shrubs with the support of more than 5,000 volunteers. COVID-19, the racial justice uprisings, and signs of a changing climate caused us to look inward, and recommit to why we do what we do. These are our biggest takeaways from 2020, with some feedback from supporters sprinkled in:
It’s all about community and accomplishing something hard, together. To our volunteers and supporters: In the darkest times of this year, your patience, conviction, and generosity have buoyed us. Every time you reach out, get a tree, volunteer, or donate, you cast a vote for the future you want. This has been a year of unpredictability, but we know one thing with steadfast certainty: with people like you, we can move mountains.
What we’ve heard:
- Keep holding events! Everyone in my pruning group was so thankful to be outside and get to interact with other people from a distance. We also had numerous residents come out and let us know how thankful they are that FOT provides this service.
- I learned so much! About the plants, how to plant them, best species for flooded areas. It was really fun!
- Got a great deal on five new trees for my back yard. Met some great people and laughed together. Made a new friend too!
- Thank you for supporting our community and the environment one tree at a time. I’m so thankful for the work you do on a daily basis.
Moving toward being an anti-racist and inclusive organization and society takes continual work. The pandemic has illustrated racial disparities in this country. There are also divisions along race lines regarding who has access to nature and the outdoors, who benefits from jobs in the fields of urban forestry, and who receives the benefits of urban trees. We are tackling each of these challenges with steadfast resolve. Simultaneously, we’re seeking to rid ourselves and our programming of white supremacy.
- I found the section on Environmental Justice and information on Portland tree canopy distribution to be particularly interesting. Lessons I learned about interrupting problematic language is definitely transferable to my day-to-day life.
- Thank you for the work you do and the voices you lift!
- Although I have previously read about privilege it was useful to consider it in relation to tree planting.
- You taught me my subconscious bias around using pronouns and I love you for it.
Going outside and engaging in community service are important for mental health. Studies show that both outdoor exposure and volunteering lowers stress, anxiety, and depression. We miss our big planting events. We’ll never take for granted ever again the beauty of being outside with a big group of people digging in the soil. When safer times are here, we want to make the next planting season our biggest yet!
- Keep up the hard work and dedication to this environmental necessity. Thank you for finding a way to keep the needle moving forward.
- The group I was with had great leaders, and an amazing group of people- we faced several obstacles throughout the day, and we tackled them all head-on, as a team. There was no conflict, arguments, nothing negative – it was entirely teamwork, lots of laughs and we all felt like we were productive! Plus I got a good workout!
- You are an awesome organization and I am happy to be a part of your family.
What else did we take away from 2020? More than one out of three of our staff say their easy-button pandemic food is frozen pizza. At 22% of our staff team, the most popular food for daily eating is chocolate. And we think we finally learned how to properly wash our hands.
In our volunteer surveys, we commonly ask folks, “Is there anything in particular that made your experience good or bad? One recent response: “It was over too quickly.” While we can’t say the same for 2020, we certainly had some fun times, and tried to make the best of a challenging situation.
Here’s to a tree-filled 2021!
The 2020 Give!Guide is here!
Willamette Week’s Give!Guide runs through December 31st and is a great way to learn about organizations that are doing amazing work on behalf of people, places, critters and causes (including trees + community, of course ;).
G!G features Big Give Days when donors are entered to win fabulous incentives like shopping sprees, vacation packages, and more.
Why give? Now more than ever, we need trees! They fight climate change, clean our air and water, and make this place beautiful. And when planted the Friends of Trees way, with all kinds of volunteers, trees grow community (ands we need that more than ever, too!).
Tree lovers, we need your help! Not only have our community tree planting events changed quite a bit due to COVID, health & safety measures mean we have very limited ability to visit communities and help neighbors get a tree of their own.
Normally we reach thousands of potential tree recipients with door-to-door canvassers and through tabling at community events – things we just can’t do this season.
Less interpersonal interaction means we won’t reach enough households about getting trees planted. And reaching fewer households means that, without your help, our neighborhoods will have far fewer new trees – and we need trees more than ever!
Here’s how you can help:
- Get a tree planted at your home. If you’ve been thinking about getting a tree, now’s the time.
- Talk to your neighbors about getting a tree. How many tree-less front yards are on your street? How about tree-less planting strips? (the area between the sidewalk and street). Visit your neighbors (masked, of course 😉 and help spread the good word about trees through forwarding this email or sharing this link.
- The cost to you for a tree is a very affordable $35. Considering that tree would sell in a nursery for much more, plus when it’s from Friends of Trees you get delivery, a hole dug, expert planters, and post-planting support, it’s a great deal!
- We have a sliding scale available if $35 is too much – name your price! And if you can afford more than $35 anything extra will go to our tree scholarship fund.
- Your tree can be FREE if need be, thanks to our tree scholarship fund (donate to the tree scholarship fund here!)
Questions? Email or call the Tree Team at (503)595-0212. We can’t wait to introduce you to your new tree!
Please note that this information applies to the Portland Metro area; for information about getting a tree in our Eugene service area please contact our Eugene office.