Join the Tree Team–be a Crew Leader!

“I have a few favorite things about crew leading. One, I get to interact with all kinds of different people; two, I get so many positive remarks and thank you-s for making people so happy—all because I’m wearing a colored vest that associates me with a great cause.” –Ryan, Friends of Trees Crew Leader

If you’ve planted trees with us, then you’ve met a Crew Leader. Crew Leaders are the friendly, knowledgeable folks who teach our volunteer tree-planters how to properly plant trees and use tools, and they’re your #1 go-to for help and questions at a Friends of Trees planting event.

Crew Leader is a key leadership position with Friends of Trees, and is ideal for people who love planting with Friends of Trees and who want to do a bit more. As a Crew Leader you gain valuable leadership skills and lots of tree knowledge! Plus, you get to spend a lot of time outside and you’ll meet an awesome assortment of new people.

So, ready to try something new? We train Crew Leaders every season and our fall trainings are coming up—Join us!

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

3 Easy Steps to Becoming a Friends of Trees Crew Leader

If the start of a new year has inspired you to make a real, lasting impact in your community, then you are in luck!

Educating our future generations about our local environment is another huge plus of being a Crew Leader with Friends of Trees!
Educating future generations about the local environment is just one perk of being a Crew Leader!

Friends of Trees is holding a Crew Leader training for our Green Space team this January 30th. Our Green Space program is focused on planting native trees and shrubs to restore watershed health and these community tree plantings occur in parks and natural areas across the greater Portland Metro region.  With over 50 planting events in the 2015-2016 season, we need the help of  trained Crew Leaders to ensure our events are both fulfilling and successful.  Space is limited, register HERE to claim your spot at this training in Tualatin, OR!

The Crew Leader role is a fun and rewarding way to connect with your community, learn about trees, and share the importance of a healthy urban forest. Not only will you learn how to plant a tree that will benefit our communities for decades to come, you will gain valuable leadership skills with the support of Friends of Trees staff.

Becoming a Friends of Trees Crew Leader is as easy as 1-2-3!

ONE: Aspiring Crew Leaders attend a ONE-day comprehensive training that covers everything from native plant and tree identification to planting day roles & responsibilities. It’s a great day where you can meet your Friends of Trees support staff, learn anything and everything about the Green Space program, and meet fellow Crew Leaders!

TWO-THREE: Following your 1-day training, we ask that you sign up for at least 2-3 Green Space planting events for the remainder of the 2015-2016 season. The Green Space team has 25+ future Saturday morning events scheduled across Washington, Multnomah, and Clackamas Counties and you will be free to sign-up for whichever events fit your schedule! At each event in your first season, we will partner you up with a seasoned Crew Leader so that you can build upon your training with on-site planting and group leading experience.

**Register here to save your spot!**

When: Saturday, January 30th, 9am – 3pm

Where: Brown’s Ferry Park Community Center, 6159 SW Nyberg Ln, Tualatin, OR 97062 (map)

What to expect: We’ll start the training with hands-on outdoor planting demonstrations and breakfast treats/coffee.  After finishing planting, we’ll break for a tasty lunch provided by Friends of Trees and the City of Tualatin. The afternoon will be spent in an indoor classroom session with presentations from Friends of Trees and City of Tualatin staff members, experienced crew leaders, and arborists to teach you everything you’ll need to know about this important role.  A coveted “Tree Team” tshirt will be provided at the end of the training.

Become a Friends of Tree Crew Leader and impress your friends with the new knowledge you will gain!
You’ll be the life of the party with all of the new knowledge you will gain!

If you have any questions or need more information about this role, please don’t hesitate to contact Jenny & Randi in the Volunteer & Outreach Program at 503-595-0213 or by emailing We look forward to working with you!

–Carey Lawry, Volunteer & Administrative Assistant

From a volunteer: Why you should be a Crew Leader

By Matt Pizzuti,  volunteer Crew Leader for the Green Space Program

I confess, I am not a morning person. I am somebody who has to set three alarms because I’ll blow through the first two, then I’ll spend 40 minutes in the shower just standing there because I fell asleep or zoned out trying to wake up. Breakfast? Forget about it! I’ll tell you what: in these upcoming elections, I will pledge my vote to any candidate who vows to get rid of mornings — that wretched, miserable time of weekdays — to stops all clocks from 2 a.m. until noon.

That was my biggest hang-up last year about signing up as a Crew Leader; if you’ve never done it before you may have some apprehensions of your own. But for me, it turned out to be well worth it to sacrifice just a few Saturday mornings per winter for as positive an experience as it has been.

Matt, far right, Crew Leading at a Green Space event.
Matt, far right, Crew Leading at a Green Space event.
Why Friends of Trees Needs Crew Leaders

Every year, Friends of Trees hosts many dozens of planting events — several per weekend through planting season — and plants tens of thousands of trees and shrubs. With a small staff, almost all the planting is done by volunteers, many of whom are new to planting trees. Friends of Trees also exists to build community and educate the public about trees, and that work couldn’t get done without Crew Leaders as go-betweens to teach volunteers and answer their questions.

Portland-Vancouver / Eugene / Salem

Considering Crew Leading? Read More

Timber’s Army gets it done

Photo: cc/Audrey Eschright
Photo: Audrey Eschright

We are Timbers Army
We are mental and we’re barmy
True supporters forever more!
—Timbers Army Chant

If you’ve ever been to a Portland Timbers game, you know that the 4,000 plus-strong Timber’s Army is the loudest and most loyal band of supporters a team has ever known.

The same is true when they come volunteer for OUR team—planting trees. And come out they do, every year, since 2012.

Timber's Army plants trees
Plant Trees, Build Teamwork
We love it when groups come to volunteer! If your group or business is interested, you can fill out this form.

On February 21, about 30 from the Army—along with Mascot Timber Joey—will join North Portland neighbors to plant trees in University Park, Cathedral Park, and St. Johns.

It’s fitting for the Army to have a presence in this area. This spring, a new ULS Pro team, Timbers 2 (or T2), will debut on its home pitch: Merlo Field at the University of Portland.

“We’re going to start taking over some of the establishments around there,” says Stephan Lewis, a member of the Timbers Army community outreach committee and an experienced Friends of Trees Crew Leader himself. “From afar we can be intimidating, but the closer you get, it’s all about spreading the love.

“Our whole organization is volunteer oriented,” he says of the Timbers Army.

Timber Joey Planting Trees
Mascot Timber Joey will join the Timbers Army and other volunteers planting trees February 21 in North Portland. Come join us! Photo: FoT File

In addition to volunteering for organizations like the Oregon Food Bank and Friends of Trees, the Timbers Army’s affiliated nonprofit Operation Pitch Invasion builds and refurbishes soccer fields for youth in low-income areas. On top of that, a scholarship fund for talented young players has sent kids like Rubio Ruben—the best footballer to ever come out of Portland, Lewis says—to training camps and tryouts. (Ruben now plays professionally in Europe.)

Being out in the community helps them uncover needs—and young talent.

“Friends of Trees is one of those avenues that helps us keep our ties to the community. These kids see us with their scarves, and they come out with their soccer balls. It’s a beautiful, beautiful moment,” Lewis says.

Lewis would recommend any group or businesses to volunteer together with Friends of Trees.

“For me, it’s always been a really great experience. There’s a visible improvement in the environment that you’re actually doing. It gives you great satisfaction for doing something for just a few hours on a Saturday,” he says.

If your group or business would like to sign up and volunteer together, you can fill out this form.

Your group will join the ranks of these recent groups, below, who’ve volunteered with Friends of Trees. You all rock!


Volunteer groups that have planted trees together this season:
Epson Portland, Oregon Adventure Scouts, PDX Do Gooders, Oregon Food Bank, Clackamas High School Green Team, La Salle Prep Biology students, Girl Scout Troop 40020, PRiNK Technologies, WVU Alumni, Cleandango, College Possible, Port of Portland, Vibrant Generation youth group, AP Environmental Science, Reynolds High School, PCC BMZA club, Windells Academy, Oregon Zoo – ECO Team, PSU Environmental Sustainability SINQ, Tanasbourne YSA, Safe Place for Youth, Sherwood High School, Key Club, Cub Scout Pack 838, HandsOn Greater Portland, South Salem High School, West Salem Rotary Interact Club, Impact Northwest, Urban Opportunities, Whole Foods, Ohio University PDX Alumni, 636th Mt Tabor Scouts, Warner Pacific College, Cleveland High School, NHS, SEEDS, Reed College, Clark College Environmental Club, Boy Scout Troop 799, Tigard High School, NHS, Southridge High School, National Honor Society, Pacific University Rotaract Club, Forword, Insignia Health Group, Barlow High School, NHS, Oregon City High School, NHS. Salesforce, ORANA, University of Denver Alumni, Service Portland, Hopworks Urban Brewery, OSU 4-H, Columbia River HS National Honor Society, Kaiser Permanente, CSL Plasma-Hillsboro, Sellwood Consulting, Target Store employees – Wilsonville, KinderCare Learning Center, Pacific University Rotaract, Bamboo Sushi, CLEAResult, Grant High School students, Explorer Post 58, Anne Downing’s David Douglas ESL students, Centennial High School, National Honor’s Society, Cub Scout Pack 199, Girl Scout Troop, 40321, Cub Scout Den 353, EYM (Educating Young Minds) Search Division, AKPsi University of Portland, U of P, Blue Key Honor Society, Benson National Honors Society, Portland BBG #313

Thank you!