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’ first bilingual planting ~ El Primer Evento Bilingüe de Plantar árboles de Friends of Trees

[an English translation follows]

Con muchas primeras experiencias para todos, nuestros compañeros del Sandy River Watershed Council nos ayudaron crear un día recordable.

El tercero de Febrero del 2018, 90 voluntarios se reunieron a plantar 1,200 árboles y arbustos en el Sandy River Delta de Troutdale, Oregon. Mientras la acción de plantar árboles es normal para Friends of Trees, este evento fue el primero de muchos momentos especiales: nuestro primer evento bilingüe (español) y el primer evento de plantar en la Delta con solo plantas adaptadas al clima.

Friends of Trees y el Sandy River Watershed Council están dedicados a proviendo eventos cuáles son inclusivos por todos. También estamos comprometidos a compartir los beneficios de árboles con las comunidades diversas con quien trabajamos. Dado nuestra población que sigue creciendo en diversidad, el tiempo para expandir eventos es hoy, no en el futuro. Así que el SRWC nos pidió que trataramos de organizar un evento en Español y Inglés en colaboración.  Friends of Trees y el Sandy River Watershed Council tienen empleados que hablan Español-Inglés e igual que voluntarios que ayudan en estos eventos. Y con la fundación de el Wildlife Conservation Society’s Climate Adaptation Fundse pudo realizar la compra de las plantas que usamos para este evento. Como un rompecabezas, todas las piezas ya estaban formando un imagen de éxito.

Pablo Brito, Especialista de Voluntarios, y Carey Aroonsuck, Asistente Administrativo y Voluntario, llevaron la responsabilidad a organizar los logísticos del evento bilingüe por Friends of Trees. Ellos tradujeron materiales como instrucciones como plantar; buscaron Crew Leaders bilingües; compartieron la oportunidad por canales de español e inglés; y trabajaron con Sara Ennis, Community Stewardship Coordinator a Sandy River Watershed Council, hacer un plan para el día de plantar. Pablo también hizo conexiones con un compañero de Latino Network quien quería traer un grupo de estudiantes al evento.

El dia empezó con una introducción en inglés y español dado por Anne Marie Santos, Especialista Mayor de Green Space. Steve Wise, Director ejecutivo de SRWC, dio un mensaje de bienvenido en inglés y español también. ¡Entonces, la diversion empezó! Arboles como la pina ponderosa y arbustos como snowberry fueron plantado por su habilidad a sobrevivir en climás más secos y calurosos.

En el equipo hispanohablante, cual tuvo 20+ voluntarios, la mayoría de los jóvenes plantaron su primer árbol en este día. Había un sentimiento común entre los muchachos quienes estuvieron interesados en regresar al sitio y ver como crecen los árboles que han plantado. Y también, ellos compartieron su interés en ser voluntarios otra vez en el futuro.

“¡Que divertido! No sabía que divertido e interesante este evento seria. Quiero hacerlo otra vez.” -Miguel, edad 14

El evento fue especial para los padres en el grupo también. Hace muchos años que viven aquí en Oregón, pero este día fue la primera vez en mucho tiempo que podría disfrutar y plantar en la naturaleza como lo hicieron en su país natal.

“Hoy fue fantastico—plantar en este lugar tan linda, trabajar con la tierra otra vez, y hacer todo con mis hijos…momentos preciosos.” -Guadalupe, la Madre de Miguel

Nuestro primer evento bilingüe fue hecho solo por las esfuerzas de todos los equipos—Friends of Trees y el Sandy River Watershed Council. Ahora, miramos a las oportunidades que vienen para aplicar las lecciones de este primer evento a eventos futuros de ambos programas—Green Space y Neighborhood Trees.

~

Partner Sandy River Watershed Council helped create a memorable day of firsts

On February 3rd this year 90 volunteers came together to plant 1,200 trees and shrubs in the Sandy River Delta. Yes, this is a regular occurrence for Friends of Trees, but this planting featured some exciting firsts: our first bilingual planting and the first planting at the Delta with only climate adaptive plants.

Friends of Trees and the Sandy River Watershed Council are committed to events that are welcoming for all; we’re also committed to sharing the benefits of trees with diverse communities. Given our region’s diversifying population, the time was right to expand our horizons, so SRWC reached out about a Spanish-English bilingual event. Both Friends of Trees and the Sandy River Watershed Council have bilingual Spanish-English staff and volunteers, and funding from the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Climate Adaptation Fundtook care of the plants, so all of the pieces for this unique event were in place.

Friends of Trees staff member Carey Aroonsuck took the lead in organizing the bilingual planting on the FOT side. Carey worked with fellow staffer Pablo Brito to translate necessary materials; secure bilingual crew leaders; connect with the Latino Network and conduct other culturally-specific outreach about the volunteer opportunity; and coordinate planting day logistics with SRWC staff, who also recruited volunteer planters.

Planting day began with a bilingual introduction from FOT staffer Anne Marie Santos and SRWC Executive Director Steve Wise. Then the volunteers broke into their planting crews and the fun started! We planted trees and shrubs such as Snowberries and Ponderosa Pine, chosen specifically for their ability to survive in a warmer, drier climate.

Of the 20+ volunteers on the Spanish-speaking crew, a majority of the youth planted their first tree that day. Many of the young volunteers shared their excitement about returning to visit the trees they planted, and about volunteering again:

This is so much fun, I didn’t know this could be so much fun! I want to come back.” -Miguel, age 14

For some of the parents in the group, who grew up in Mexico and have been in the US for many years, this was the first time since they’ve been in this country that they were able to get out into nature and plant something:

“This was just so nice to be able to plant again, and to work with soil again, out in the fresh air. And to plant with my children is extra special.” -Guadalupe, Miguel’s mom

This event was a true team-effort, among Friends of Trees program staff and with project partner Sandy River Watershed Council. We look forward to applying the lessons-learned to provide bilingual events in the future across both our Neighborhood Trees and Green Space programs. Stay tuned!

This is an excerpt from the March 2018 edition of Treemail, read the entire issue here.

‘A great reward for the effort’: Volunteer Christopher Masciocchi Shares Why it is Great to Be a Neighborhood Coordinator

If volunteering with Friends of Trees has been on your radar or you are just looking for ways to contribute to your community–you are in the right place! Friends of Trees is seeking dedicated volunteers for a variety of roles in the coming planting season.

Today we are highlighting Christopher Masciocchi, volunteer Neighborhood Coordinator to East Portland’s Hazelwood neighborhood. Chris excels in this diverse role of community buildingevent planning, and local tree advocacy. Chris has a lot of great things to share about the Neighborhood Coordinator role and has been gracious enough to share them with us. Check out his interview below and discover if this is the volunteer role you’ve been searching for!

“The Neighborhood Coordinator role is a great one because it means interacting with the Friends of Trees staff, local businesses that want to support their efforts, the neighbors looking to plant trees, and the many volunteers that just want
to help.”

Current Needs for Neighborhood Coordinators exist in many Portland neighborhoods east of 82nd Ave: Lents, Centennial, Glenfair, Sumner, and Parkrose. Click HERE to read more and sign up to be a Neighborhood Coordinator if you live in one of the listed East, Northeast neighborhoods listed above.

Onward to the interview!

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Volunteer Spotlight: Martha, SE Portland Neighborhood Coordinator

Today I introduce you to Martha: Neighborhood Coordinator to SE Portland’s Laurelhurst neighborhood and all-around amazing member of our Tree Team. [But before I get too far, if you don’t know what a Neighborhood Coordinator is and why they make our Neighborhood Trees planting events successful year after year, get in the know!]

Recently, Martha and I talked about trees, party-planning, how great it feels to meet new people in your neighborhood, and why we’ve been lucky enough to have her volunteer as a Neighborhood Coordinator year after year.

Read the interview below and get hip to Martha and her connection to Neighborhood Coordinating.

SE Portland Neighborhood Coordinators
Martha (second from the right) and the Neighborhood Coordinator team, posing next to the community potluck lunch at their tree planting event.

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Hearing from our rookie Crew Leaders

Friends of Trees  has an amazing volunteer base. Like, really incredible. We’re joined by thousands of individuals at our planting and tree care events every year (5,000+ this season, but who’s counting?), who give us their time, energy and smiles.

And at every event, rain or shine, are the familiar faces of our Crew Leaders, our trained planting leaders who teach groups of strangers how to properly plant all kinds of plant stock (bare root, balled and burlap, containerized, live stake), keep the planting mood light and fun even when it’s raining sideways, take on the less glamorous tasks like sweeping, picking up burlap, cleaning shovels, marking planting and plenty more. Woo!

Our Crew Leaders are some of the most dedicated tree champions we know. Here is a quick photo rundown of Crew Leaders at typical winter planting events (sweeping, directing traffic and taking a break after the end of a long planting day!):

Knowing all of this, we spoke to Alex, Kellyn, Liz, Emily, and Wayne, five of our newest and most dedicated Crew Leaders about their rookie season with Friends of Trees. Read about why they took the plunge and trained to be Crew Leader and why they keep coming back.

What inspired you to join Friends of Trees as a Crew Leader this year?

Kellyn (Green Space Crew Leader): I was always under the impression that Friends of Trees was specific to street trees in Portland, and while greening our streets is a very worthy cause, it’s not my passion. Natural areas and restoration work is more my jam, and when Anil at CWS told me about the Green Space program, I was excited. I knew there were other non profits that did native plantings, but word of mouth from multiple people on how much fun plantings were and how fantastic in general FOT is ultimately won me over.

Alex (Green Space & Neighborhood Trees Crew Leader): Needed outlet for my “get-outside-and-do-some-good” impulses now that my kids are older and no longer involved in scouting.

Alex , overseeing invasive plant removal with a another Crew Leader at a Green Space tree care event.

Emily (Neighborhood Trees Crew Leader): I started with Friends of Trees as a Tree Team Ambassador – which is an extremely fun role and was perfect for me because I had just moved to Portland and I met a ton of people. At one of the outreach events, Jenny (Volunteer & Outreach Manager) told me about what FOT does in the winter and the coveted Crew Leader positions – and the rest is history!

Liz (Neighborhood Trees Crew Leader): I was initially going to be a Neighborhood Coordinator, but Crew Leading was a better fit. Since I moved from Arizona, I was so impressed with all the trees!

What is your favorite part of leading volunteers at plantings? Do you have a stand out experience of the season?

Kellyn: I love getting the kiddos excited for a day in the mud. Whenever there’s a child that doesn’t seem to want to be there, I make it a special point to make sure they have fun. Seeing people smile and helping to keep that general warm and fuzzy feeling that we’re all out there for a good cause just renews my spirit.

Wayne (Green Space & Neighborhood Trees Crew Leader): My favorite part of leading is watching young people learn how to handle a shovel and the look on their faces when we have successfully planted their first tree.

Alex: Watching people let loose and play in the dirt. Neighborhood planting in Vancouver with a crew of recent West African immigrants was lots of fun.

Liz: The fact that everybody hung in and kept good humor during a planting in Woodstock in December that was pouring rain the whole time!  Everyone was saying that they’d never been at a planting with that much rain. But we had a very nice crew of volunteers, a couple homeowners getting trees, a driver who didn’t mind the mud, and no one batted an eye. (Editor’s note: The planting referenced here was one of the rainiest events FOT staff can remember of the last 8 years! )

Emily: My favorite part is just being goofy and fun with the volunteers, while still teaching them all the tree knowledge. I figure, they are coming out early on a rainy Saturday to do this, so it should be as awesome as possible.

Emily, (leftmost Crew Leader in orange vest), during our rainiest planting day in recent memory, December 2015.

Any words of wisdom or advice for someone considering training in this role?

Kellyn: Sometimes it was hard to get out of bed early on a Saturday, the week’s exhaustion a bit overwhelming, but I never, ever regretted leading a crew after the event and was always so happy I made the effort.

Alex: If you’re driving, bring your own favorite implements of destruction, such as a mattock/pick. Ibuprofen is your friend. Find a hot tub. Get up early and eat a good breakfast.

Wayne: Learn how to be very patient with everyone in your group and remember that they are volunteering their time as well.

Liz: Identifying people’s inclination toward tasks and giving them positions makes the event run more smoothly.

What is something you got out of Crew Leading that you didn’t expect? (Other than an overabundance of KIND bars!)

Kellyn: Connection with others. I have come to know a few crew leaders and volunteers well and really enjoy working with them, and it makes the days so enjoyable. Huge kudos to [my co-Crew Leader], Stanley, for stepping up as a crew leader during a Gift Planting when I lost my emotions after a particularly sad story. What a supportive group of people. It was such a team building day. Also, lots of experience planting bare roots- which I really appreciate!

Wayne: Being both an assistant crew leader and crew leader gave me the chance to meet others with similar interests to help enhance the planet. You are all such kind and caring people!

Wayne (center, orange vest), at his first Neighborhood Trees event. Dang, that’s a happy planting team!

Emily: When I first signed up and also started getting a taste for Portland winter, I was thinking, I’m going to do like 3 of these a season to fill my quota. And then I did one and was obsessed and kept doing more and more. You suddenly realize there’s nothing you’d rather be doing on a rainy Saturday morning. So that was surprising to me. I’m also gaining skills that have translated into my work life, so it’s a very worthwhile volunteer experience and resume-booster.

Liz: I think by discovering FOT, it has helped me feel very quickly attached to Portland, and comfortable: learn neighborhoods more, meet Portland people and feel much more a part of Portland.

Three cheers for these incredible Crew Leaders and all the many faces that make our planting programs successful year in and year out!

Randi Orth is the Volunteer & Outreach Specialist at Friends of Trees