Greening the Capitol: Salem Crew Leader Training on October 25th!

By Katie Dennis

Katie leading a planting crew at Morningside Elementary School (4.5.2014)
Katie leading a planting crew at Morningside Elementary School (4.5.2014)

Have you considered becoming a Friends of Trees Crew Leader? You don’t need to be a plant geek (although you’ll feel right at home if you are.) No botanical experience necessary. Do you like people? Have a sense of humor? Friends of Trees wants YOU.

Register Here for the October 25th
Salem Crew Leader Training

I am in the midst of a 60-year love affair with trees. Nestled in their boughs as a child, stringing hammocks beneath their shade. Learning their names and origins. And planting and caring for them.

In 2008, the great recession looming, I lost my job as Horticulturist at a botanical garden. To temper my employment search, I looked for new ways to give back to my community. I tried volunteering with several nonprofits. At long last I stumbled upon Friends of Trees. Just the name itself – Friends of Trees – was a fit. Who wouldn’t want to be a friend to trees?!

Once I stepped into the Crew Leader role with FOT, I was hooked. This is a friendly, intelligent, passionate organization. Our planting events are a HOOT! No doubt, trees have a way of opening our hearts and unclouding our minds. Sitting Bull said, “Healthy feet can hear the very heartbeat of the Earth.” Maybe that explains why I feel so incredibly happy after a planting event.

Think about joining the ranks of FOT Crew Leaders. I hope you’ll answer the ‘call’ to your latest rewarding urban adventure!

Register Here for the October 25th training. For more information, contact Jenny & Ian at or call 503-595-0213.

-Katie is a volunteer Crew Leader & Salem Plantings Coordinator for Friends of Trees


Meet Katie Dennis, our Salem all-star  

Look up “tree people” in the dictionary and you might just see Katie Dennis’ face.

Susie and Katie
Katie Dennis (right) was honored at our recent Volunteer Awards celebration. (Photo: Lucia DeLisa)

For her outstanding contributions this past planting season, Katie was recognized in April an honorable mention for Friends of Trees’ 2014 Garry Oak Award, because she embodies the spirit of community, volunteerism, good work and fun that Friends of Trees—and our mascot Garry Oak—strive to achieve every day.

(Read about all of the 2014 volunteer award winners here)

Katie started volunteering with Friends of Trees this past fall and quickly became a Crew Leader for both the Neighborhood Trees Program and the Green Space Initiative. To top it off, she’s training as a Summer Tree Inspector for the coming months.

“I’ve been a tree geek for a long time, a gardener for my whole life, so this was just a perfect fit,” she says.

Having lived in Salem for more than 40 years, Katie has become a Friends of Trees ambassador in Oregon’s capitol, where we just completed our first full planting season.

When we needed a staging site to gather before a planting, Katie came through. When we needed to connect with Salem neighbors, Katie attended neighborhood meetings and got events on the radio and in the newspaper. When we needed photos, she took them.

But her favorite thing is leading planting crews.

“Being out in the field is what I love the most,” she says. “I’ve found the natural world is the best way to connect with people, especially children.”

Katie comes from a teaching background, having worked as an interpreter at a school for the deaf for 15 years. After that she worked at the Oregon Garden helping with outdoor education programs and leading crews to beautify the grounds. Now semi-retired, she runs her own company helping people care for their trees and gardens.

She firmly believes that trees are the way to reach people and help them connect with the natural world.

“It’s took me a while to find my niche, but I’ve found it with Friends of Trees,” she says. “I’m like a grandmother to everyone,” she says. “It’s given me a wonderful new lease on life.”



We are giving these new planting sites some love

We are excited to be planting for the first time in these green spaces and neighborhoods in the coming weeks. Come out and join us!

Planting with Friends of Trees

All of these Saturday events begin promptly at 9:00am, so please arrive a bit early to get registered and assigned to a planting crew. We provide hot coffee and breakfast treats, as well as gloves, tools and trained volunteer guidance.

Simply show up dressed for the weather and wearing sturdy boots or shoes and we’ll take care of the rest!

If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact Jenny in the Volunteer & Outreach Program at 503-5[9]-0213 or

Greening the Capital

Arbor Day at Hoover 008
More than 70 people planted with us to celebrate Arbor Day in Salem on April 6, 2013 (Elizabeth Elbel)

By Elizabeth Elbel

Friends of Trees rang in Arbor Month in Oregon’s capital city this season with the help of over 70 volunteers. Family members and students of Salem’s Hoover Elementary School joined community members to plant 20 new trees on the Hoover Elementary School and adjacent city park grounds.

This is Friends of Trees’ second planting in Salem and our first in partnership with the City of Salem and Salem Urban Forestry. Members of the school appreciated the opportunity to get together with their children to plant and give back to their community. We were able to beautify the school and the park, moving five yards of mulch in the process. It was amazing to see people power in motion as girl scouts, college students, mothers, fathers and the greater community worked together.Read More