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

We’re hiring!

Love trees? Looking for meaningful work in a supportive, fun work environment? Then check out our opening for a Neighborhood Trees Specialist.

Neighborhood Trees Specialists implement community-based, neighborhood street tree planting projects in collaboration with volunteer Neighborhood Coordinators, Neighborhood Associations and other partner groups in accordance with the Friends of Trees’ mission. Ideal candidates will be personable, creative and adaptable; have a background or interest in community tree planting and care; able to juggle multiple priorities at once; and have a desire to work with diverse communities and individuals of all backgrounds.

Interested? Details here.

A Summer Filled with People and Trees

By Wyatt Jernigan, DukeEngage Intern

Wyatt facing off against invasive Himalayan Blackberry

Hello Everyone! My name is Wyatt and for the past 8 weeks I have been interning at Friends of Trees through a program called DukeEngage. This program sends around 400 Duke students all across the country and world each year to participate in meaningful civic engagement projects. There are 6 other students here in the Portland program, working at a range of organizations, all with an environmental focus. Some of the other placements are at The Nature Conservancy, OPAL Environmental Justice, 1000 Friends of Oregon, and Crag Environmental Law Center.


I have been spending my time at Friends of Trees mainly assisting the Green Space and Neighborhood Trees programs. From going on watering routes, to updating tree description info, or being out at a past GS planting site watering/daylighting/weed whacking (read Himalayan Blackberry removal), I have had a busy and exciting summer. No two days were the same, and I have had amazing opportunities to develop new skills and learn a lot!


As you may already know, planting does not happen during the summer at Friends of Trees (I am kind of sad I won’t get to be at one with all of the awesome volunteers!), rather this part of the year is spent getting ready and preparing for the planting season. However, this does not mean that there is any lack of work that needs to be done. Scheduling, planning, preparing for, and executing all the parts that are required for a planting is no small feat, and this summer I got an inside look at all the thought needed to pull it off.


Through my time with Green Space I got to visit a lot of different planting sites and see how the thousands of trees and shrubs planted are fairing under this intensely hot and dry Oregon summer (I really was expecting something more cool and cloudy). Through visiting all of these sites, I got to see parts of Portland that were somewhat far out (and even some of the suburbs) that I would not have normally been able to visit. I think this gave me a better sense of the city and its numerous green spaces. I also got to learn a lot about some of the native plants here in Oregon (some of my personal favorites include the Pacific Madrone, Oregon White Oak, and Ponderosa Pine). One of the coolest experiences I had was going to a site that had been planted 8 or so years ago and seeing how all of these tiny little shrubs and trees I had been watering and mulching around were going to grow and be well on their way to being much larger in the not too distant future. It was awesome to be able to envision all of the sites I had seen with baby plants as this lush “grown up” version. It really gave me a lot of inspiration moving forward that the work I was doing was going to help make a difference at these places (which of course wouldn’t have been even planted on the first place if not for the work of the volunteers, so thank you all!!).


You would think with a name like “Friends of Trees” that their mission would revolve around trees, however the most interesting thing I learned this summer was that that is not necessarily true. In a very technical sense, yes Friends of Trees operates at every turn by planting trees in and around Portland, however their real mission is to mobilize and inspire communities. They do so through trees and the different planting events. No one can be upset at more trees being planted! They provide so many health and general benefits to people and the surrounding environment. It is an ingenious way to bring together a group of people around a common goal that they can bond over and take a shared investment in. This summer I have seen the power of these events and the people behind them. Whether it is the 3,000+ plants  that were planted at a site by amazing volunteers, or a street tree that continues to get watered by a caring homeowner, everyone who participates in these events has the power to turn their surroundings into something greener and better! And whether it’s the outreach team going out trying to bring the amazing opportunities at Friends of Trees to as many people as possible, the various Crew Leaders and support people at planting events, Neighborhood Coordinators, or any number of the full time staff that, year after year, jump through logistical hoop after logistical hoop to execute their mission with nothing short of an ecstatic smile on their face, I know that the future of Friends of Trees is safe as long as these passionate people keep building community, and keep planting trees.

What is the culture of your space?

“What’s the culture of your space?” is not something you hear very often, but it’s a great question to ask yourself if you plan to plant a tree. We’re blessed to live near the Nursery capital of America, meaning that we’ve got a huge variety of trees from which to choose. If you want to make life easier for yourself though, you should start the planting process with a little bit of observation.

When you match the plant to the growing conditions you have in your space, you are well on your way to achieving the objective: right tree, right place. If you match the scale of the tree and its growing needs to your space, you will be both protecting your sidewalks, driveways, and other hardscaping and providing for your tree(s) to not just survive but thrive.

You should even consider how easy or not it would be to water your new tree given it will need 10-15 gallons of water once a week. Remember: trees and shrubs prefer 2-3 summers of deep and infrequent watering to establish deeper roots, as opposed to the more frequent and shallow needs of grass, veggies, and flowers. Also, water weighs just over 8 lbs per gallon, so if your tree is planted beyond hose range you may need to carry a 5-gallon bucket (that weighs 40 lbs) 2-3 times one day a week to get your tree(s) what’s needed. Keep in mind that some trees – such a dogwoods – are generally understory trees in nature and might prefer partial shade. That means that when planted in full sun they often need supplemental watering to look their best.

So, do yourself the favor of taking time this summer to watch how the sun hits your yard. If you’ve got shade from buildings, houses, or other trees, make note of how that might affect a tree. Keep in mind that “full sun” is generally defined as at least eight hours of direct sunlight throughout the course of a day. Do you have a view that you might hope to block? An evergreen tree would do that year-round, whereas a deciduous tree would do that during the summer months at least. Do you have a favorite window with a view you look frequently? If so, “paint a picture” with your landscape and plant a nice tree with spring flowers or fall color outside so you can add a little beauty to your life.

As you’re around town this coming summer, pay attention to what trees catch your eye. By next fall when planting starts, you’ll already be ahead of the game!

by Andrew Land, Friends of Trees Neighborhood Trees Senior Specialist

Hey! Yeah you!! Won’t you jump in and become a Neighborhood Coordinator for our 2018-2019 planting season?

Have you ever thought to yourself, “Hey, how does that Friends of Trees event happen in my neighborhood?” WELL, let me tell you that one huge puzzle piece is the fact that we have volunteers who sign up and train to become Neighborhood Coordinators in their respective neighborhood. Whether you are in Arbor Lodge or Cully, more “NCs” are needed to join the teams already hard at work putting on these events (and some of our ‘hoods have no NCs!).  Perks about this role would be getting to know your neighbors young and old, insightful tree knowledge, and rocking our popular TREE TEAM t-shirt! Have I caught your interest yet? I hope so, but if not, my final push to have you consider this role is that you would be helping plant hundreds of trees in your neighborhood with the goal of creating a cohesive and healthy community. Because YOU plus TREES equal VIBRANT communities.


Check out below some details about the role:

  • NCs are needed in neighborhoods where we plant various neighborhood trees: ‘hoods in Vancouver, WA and NE, SE, E Portland;
  • Bring neighbors together to meet one another, learn about our urban forest, and support them to plant or volunteer in some way;
  • Communicate with  local businesses through volunteering, raising money, or in-kind donations to support the annual neighborhood planting;
  • Engage community groups, schools and organizations to come out and get involved directly in their communities


Together, NCs and Friends of Trees staff guide our neighborhood plantings from beginning to end. No need to be an expert! Interested volunteers; you will be trained and supported throughout the planting that you will be coordinating.  Together with staff, you will:

  • Help coordinate one neighborhood planting per year (October-April);
  • Respond to homeowner inquiries by email & phone;
  • Make phone calls to homeowners that have not ordered their tree(s);
  • Solicit pick-up trucks or open trailer pullers from neighbors;
  • Recruit additional volunteers (Takes quite a bit of volunteers for one planting);
  • Solicit food/monetary donations from the community for breakfast/lunch;
  • Set up/coordinate breakfast & lunch for the volunteers on planting day

So where do you sign up? Click HERE to register for a training if you find yourself living in a neighborhood where we need new NCs. Not sure what neighborhood you live in? Type your address using this link HERE and you’ll find out in seconds what neighborhood you belong to. After you register, someone from our Volunteer & Outreach team will contact you with further steps about the NC role. Thank you readers for considering this important role with Friends of Trees.

== Pablo is our Volunteer & Outreach Specialist with Friends of Trees==