Welcome to our 33rd season of planting trees, together!
In study after study, researchers have found that people who volunteer lead longer, healthier, happier lives. University of Washington, 2020
32 years ago Portland resident Richard Seidman got some neighbors together to plant trees. Richard absolutely wanted to help the environment, but he also wanted to do something that involved bringing people together, he wanted to “begin something new that might involve hope and a positive new direction.”
“My favorite part was seeing my kids plant trees.” FOT volunteer, November 2020
870,000 trees and native shrubs later, we know without a doubt that community tree planting not only works to both bring people together AND fight climate change, community tree planting is an integral and beloved part of the fabric of our community. This is why when COVID hit we didn’t stop, we pivoted and innovated and worked like heck to ensure that we not only continued to plant thousands of trees, we did so with our community.
“I love planting trees and the satisfaction knowing I did something good for the environment.” FOT volunteer, October 2020.
As we welcome our 33rd season of planting trees together we’re still pivoting and innovating and working like heck to make community tree planting happen. We’re hosting live and virtual volunteer training events (learn more here!), we’ll continue to implement COVID health + safety protocols, and we are returning (mostly) to how our Saturday morning volunteer tree planting events were pre-COVID:
- Our Neighborhood Trees events will feature morning gatherings of groups up to 100 volunteers who break down into small groups to plant street and yard trees. As of now all gatherings will be 100% outdoors and we won’t have a potluck lunch after planting; we hope to have coffee + packaged snacks, but bring what you need please!
- Green Space events will host about 50 volunteers at restoration sites, and we’ll increase these numbers as soon as we are able so we can plant even more seedlings and native shrubs in sensitive natural areas. Providing coffee + packaged snacks are also a goal, but bring what you need!
“It’s great to be working with a group of people to accomplish something.” Friends of Trees volunteer, April 2021
This last year hasn’t been easy on trees (or people) across the Willamette Valley. The February ice storm and the summer heat dome both damaged our urban canopy and provided further evidence (as if we need more) of just how vital it is that we continue to plant trees.
Friends of Trees is seeing an increase in interest from our municipal partners who are hearing from their communities that they want more trees. These growing partnerships, where more trees are planted with community volunteers, is also further evidence of something else we know to be true: planting trees together is not just valued, it’s priceless.
Our event calendar is live and ready, so hop on and join us. Want a larger role? Check out our key volunteer roles and register for a fun, informative training. We can’t wait to plant trees with you again!
Help us get ready for our 33rd season of planting and caring for trees!
We have training opportunities for key volunteer positions, no experience necessary:
Pruning training sessions – learn to prune!
- Oregon City, 9/25, 9am-12pm: The training is designed for OC residents, but all are welcome
- Wilsonville, 10/2, 9am-12pm: The training is designed for Wilsonville residents, but all are welcome
Remember back in February when the massive ice storm left so much tree destruction in its wake? Did you know that proper structural pruning when a tree is young is a tool you can use to help mitigate major tree failures from wind and ice storms?
Thanks to funding through the City of Oregon City and the Oregon City Community Enhancement Grant, FOT is offering a free, young-tree structural pruning workshop! This workshop will teach you how to identify pruning needs, how and when to prune trees, how to use different tools (no chainsaws!), and more.
How do I register? Visit our online calendar, click on the event, and fill out the quick registration form to reserve your place. Space is limited.
What will the training be like? Participants will learn from and practice alongside FOT staff and experienced FOT pruning volunteers as they prune young trees. Participants will also receive educational materials that provide more information on basic pruning techniques, how structural pruning can be used to improve tree resiliency, and the importance of young tree care and a healthy urban forest.
What about Covid-19? Friends of Trees continues to take safety very seriously and are using the following precautions at this time:
- All volunteers are required to be fully-vaccinated against Covid-19, and willing to show proof at their event if asked. OR are not eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine at the time of their event (e.g. due to being under 12 years old, or severely immunocompromised).
- All volunteers and staff wear a properly fitted mask to the event and through event introductions. After crews split off and are more spread out pruning, those who prefer are welcome to remove their masks as long as they can remain 6’+ apart.
- If you feel unwell within 2 weeks of the event, please cancel your volunteer registration.
- Please bring your own food and snacks, there will likely not be any shared food or drinks provided by FOT, we hope to return to shared coffee and breakfast snacks as soon as it is safer to do so!
- FOT is committed to limiting the risk of exposure for our volunteers and staff in every possible way while continuing to prune, plant, and bring people together safely outdoors. For a full list of our Covid-19 protocol, please see our Volunteer FAQ page.
Crew Leader Training – lead teams of tree planters!
If you are looking for a way to combat climate change and create a more equitable community, you might just be a future Friends of Trees Crew Leader!
If you want to lead the public to plant trees in parks and neighborhoods that don’t have as many, you might be a future Friends of Trees Crew Leader!
If you want to make a lasting, positive change in a fun and physical(ly-distanced) way and you don’t mind working in the mud and rain, then you might be ready to become a Friends of Trees Crew Leader!
And we hope you do — all are welcome!
Visit our Crew Leader training webpage to see your online and in-person training options. Space is limited, register soon to hold your spot at one of these fun Fall trainings!
Over the years the Eugene Tree Team has worked to build a core of neighborhood volunteers, folks in different neighborhoods who help secure staging sites for planting events, who can help get food donations, who help neighbors select trees, and most importantly, reach out to residents to find locations where neighbors want trees (yep, just like the Neighborhood Coordinators of the Portland office!). We have some incredible volunteers who have been key to community tree planting in Eugene, and we’re working on identifying active volunteers in Springfield, too, and in as many of the neighborhoods we work in as possible.
Why does this matter? Neighbors talking to neighbors is one of the best ways to spread the good word about trees, and leads to getting more trees planted. It’s also incredibly helpful to have an ongoing local group who can help with the same event every year.
So here’s what we’re trying: We’re working with neighborhood groups, both the more formal neighborhood associations along with more informal groups of neighbors. We’re connecting groups and residents in different neighborhoods and helping volunteers focus on their specific interests and letting those interests lead the way, and we’ll work to find the intersection between those interests and FOTE’s planting event needs. We also know that some volunteers have resources other than time available to them, and we’ll incorporate that, too.
Eugene Director Erik shares a great example of the intersection of interest + resources + need,
“Jon is really into getting trees into Springfield neighborhoods that need them. He is an owner of a local building and design company, where he is lead for landscape work. Jon not only volunteers to plant trees, he helps water trees near his family’s home with his wife and their two kids (hauling water in a little red wagon :), and his business also helps with post-planting tree care through watering about 35 trees in Springfield and 70 more in west Eugene every summer for tree recipients who need that assistance.”
Here’s Jon on why he volunteers – and, specifically, why he volunteers to water trees,
“Nothing in my life lifts the anxiety, stress and guilt of our current climate crises like watering a young tree. It may be a small tree and it does take time and energy, but if we all participate in this act during our summer months, the anxiety, stress and guilt just might transform into something wonderful. Like pride, safety, and happiness.”
Be like John! Contact the Eugene Tree Team and let us know about your skills + interests (+ resources if you have access to any!) and we’ll work on connecting you with a volunteer role that helps plant trees + grow community in the Eugene-Springfield area. We need Saturday tree planting volunteers too! Check out our event calendar and come join us this season!
As part of our series shining the spotlight on some folks who make all this community tree planting possible, here’s Martha, a Neighborhood Coordinator!
Martha Irvinve (She/Her, second from right) volunteers as a Neighborhood Coordinator, which is a crucial volunteer role in a typical season. NCs work closely with staff members to help answer questions from tree recipients, create outreach strategies, and they help organize the annual neighborhood planting day.
Martha has been NCing and helping FOT prep for planting events for about nine years now; she shares a little about her experience:
Q: Why did you choose to volunteer with Friends of Trees?
A: I’ve been volunteering in various capacities for a wide variety of organizations since my Girl Scout days. I fell in love with volunteering for Friends of Trees because the results of our efforts are so tangible. Also, FOT has a clear vision of what it wants/needs from its volunteers so I always felt productive. Previously, with other organizations, I have had the experience of showing up to volunteer for some activity and the organizers would try to come up with what I might be able to do. Not so with Friends of Trees, there the mission is clear and the tasks well defined.
What advice would you give to other NCs who are fresh into their role?
When we step up to volunteer, we all bring different skills to the table. I would say to begin as NC take on those tasks that you feel comfortable with. As you grow in the role try on some tasks to challenge yourself. For me that was stepping up to say something at the plantings = I do not like public speaking but it’s not so bad when you are talking about something that you are passionate about.
Do you have any volunteer memories that stand out?
A favorite memory is of planting one year with a family who lives around the corner from me. I was out planting that day with a crew that included said family. The two children were about 3 and 6 and they came along with their parents. The 3 year old girl was intrigued by the earth worms in the ground and the 6 year old boy enjoyed digging a bit and then helping compact the soil after the tree was in the ground. The children seemed to delight in helping. But the best part was later when I saw their mother in the neighborhood and she said that her kids knew exactly which trees they had helped plant and they continued to point them out. What’s better than getting kids into planting trees?!
Learn more about the amazingness of Neighborhood Coordinators here. We’ll know more soon about NCs will participate in our upcoming season so keep an eye on this page. Thank you Martha, and all NCs!
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.