News from Friends of Trees

July 2020

We planted more than 50,000 trees + native shrubs!

Reflections on the 2019-20 planting season

Friends of Trees’ 2019-20 planting season will be remembered for so many things beyond how many trees we planted with you. Of course, COVID-19 and the premature end to the season’s community tree planting events forced creativity and flexibility like never before (learn about our flexibility here), and continues to play a role in planning for our next tree planting season in order to have events that are safe and welcoming.

Heightened mandates for racial justice compelled Friends of Trees and so many other organizations and businesses to take deep dives into exploring and implementing practices and policies that help promote a just society. We take this all very seriously and will regularly share updates about our EDI programming and efforts in our social media channels and through Treemail. Now more than ever we feel that coming together to plant, care for, and learn about trees can play a crucial role in improving our social as well as natural environments, and we are so fortunate that we get to do this with all of you.

We look forward to sharing what community tree planting will look like this fall; meanwhile, we’re thrilled to share some highlights from our 31st season of community tree planting where, in spite of so many canceled events due to COVID, we still planted 51,189 trees and native shrubs with more than 6,000 volunteers. Friendships were made, people directly connected with the environment and the earth (sometimes for the first time!), and partnerships grew.

Here are some of our favorite moments (be sure to keep reading to the Eugene Branch for more highlights!):

Photo above: Luscher Farms site in Lake Oswego, you can read about that partnership here.

Yusr gives back through tree planting. Green Space Program

We often say that you can meet so many people from all over at a Friends of Trees volunteer event, and this year we had the pleasure of planting with Yusr from Bahrain! Yusr, a foreign exchange student who spent her senior year attending high school in Portland, volunteered at our Mitchell Creek planting event in March (you can read more about that site here). That day we planted vine maples, serviceberries, tall Oregon grape, and many other native plants that were new to Yusr. In turn, we’ve now learned about Bahrain’s most famous tree, the Tree of Life, a Prosopis cineraria that is more than 400 years old and has roots more than 150 feet deep!

Yusr was shy at first but soon she was happy to talk about her experience living for a year so far from home with a host family, and how interested she was in volunteering at a natural area. Yusr shared, “I wanted to come out [to plant] to be more active in the community and to give back. I’m excited to meet more people and explore more activities in the Portland area.” In fact, Yusr loved Portland so much she wants to come back soon (as a volunteer planter, we hope!).

Photo: Yusr (left) planting with Crew Leader Theresa (Theresa has also been on our Outreach team)

Making tree planting accessible. Volunteer & Outreach and Neighborhood Trees programs

Tam, a volunteer who has also been on our Outreach staff, reached out to the Portland deaf community via Facebook, wanting to engage folks in tree planting; she also reached out to students from Portland Community College’s Interpreting Program. The result? Our February event in the Creston-Kenilworth neighborhood included two crews from the deaf community, all of whom were first time planters with us.

Tam explained her motivation for helping to bring this together, “There are lots of communities that get left out of things, and this is one community that I have connections to. There is always room for more diversity.”

In order to fully accommodate the crews with deaf volunteers we engaged IRCO for American Sign Language translation support. Tam’s friends were very happy with the translation, and the two interpreters enjoyed the event, expressing interest in future involvement.

There was also a great connection between the deaf volunteers and the PCC Interpreting students. One of the PCC participants, Madison, praised the event and the IRCO ASL signers, “Thank you for providing an interpreter at your event, and promoting accessibility. We were delighted to take part in the day, and to observe the interpreters in action. We hope to attend more tree planting events in the future, and look forward to seeing you all there.”

Tam shares yet another benefit of community tree planting, “When people get together to do something physical, you don’t need to all speak the same language to communicate effectively. This is why tree planting is really nice for people of any background who speak any language.”

Photo: A crew with deaf volunteers and an ASL interpreter sign “tree.” Tam is on the far right; far left is former Outreach Team member Jane-Clair.

Get to Know the Friends of Trees Staff

Beneath the Bark: Fun Facts, Tree Team Tidbits and Staff Secrets

Sure, you can visit the staff page on our website for our email addresses and our titles, but who are we, really? What do we do for fun? What’s our favorite tree? If we taught a class, what would the subject be? (and would you take it 😉

Find the answers to all that – and so much more – on our new web page, Beneath the Bark: Fun Facts, Tree Team Tidbits and Staff Secrets.

Here are some tasty tidbits to give you an idea about what’s in store. Get to know …

Tree art by Candace, 4th grade

Mary Harrell, Office Manager

Favorite activities? Outdoor activities, especially gardening. Cooking and music.

Favorite tree? The almighty Ginkgo Tree, also known as the oldest tree on earth. You know it for its beauty but the female is known to be stinky (you go girl!).

Class? I be cooking!

Mary is in the center with flowers.

Michelle Yasutake, Neighborhood Trees Specialist

Activities? River-ing, birding, gardening, enjoying all things outdoors in the sunshine.

Favorite potluck dish? Crockpot Steelcut Oats! Pop it in the slowcooker before bed, and wake up to a hearty, healthy breakfast that will feed a crowd.

Class? Campfire cooking

Taylor Glass, Eugene Volunteer & Planting Specialist

Activities? Baking, art, crafting, making music playlists, gardening, board games, D&D

Tree? Pacific yew, a beautiful evergreen conifer that is usually covered in lichen and moss.

Class? Art in the outdoors (at a park, on a hike, etc) – with a focus on environmental art, mixed media, & utilizing found items in nature.


News from Friends of Trees Eugene

Friends of Trees Eugene had one of our best seasons yet in 2019-20, planting more than 1,164 trees, native shrubs and wildflowers in the Eugene-Springfield area. While all of our events are special to us (we’re looking at YOU, Eugene volunteers!), our annual MLK Day planting event really stands out.

Our MLK Day event took place in Westmoreland Park and the Friendly Neighborhoods in partnership with the City of Eugene and sponsored by Mountain Rose Herbs. We enjoyed the tree-planting efforts of 123 volunteers (of which 27 were youth volunteers) who donated 369 hours to plant more than 85 trees!

Crew Leader and “super supporter” Steve was part of the team that day and shares his thoughts about Friends of Trees:

“I am grateful for Friends of Trees and their ability to help build community around planting trees. Planting trees can help avert the climate crisis, increase the urban tree canopy, and make our neighborhood more pleasant and beautiful. In another ten years, the trees we planted today will provide shade, oxygen, and habitat for critters, and I get to walk and bike past them every day. We all get it, and it’s wonderful when everyone pitches in.”

Steve concludes with an example of other ways you can help make a difference, “Y’all can make a donation to Friends of Trees to support their ongoing work.” Thanks Steve! And THANK YOU, too, to everyone who helped make our 2019-20 season such a success, we can’t wait to see you next season!

Stay connected! Visit, like, follow and engage with the Eugene Tree Team on our Facebook and Instagram pages.

Photo: An MLK Day crew, including FOT Eugene staffer Taylor Glass, third from left



The Portland Metro area planting calendar and the Eugene-Springfield calendar will be ready by September, so be sure to check in for opportunities for you to make a difference through planting trees, together.

Friends of Trees inspires people to improve the natural

world around them through a simple solution:

Planting Trees. Together.

(503) 282-8846: Portland office

(541) 632-3683: Eugene office

Learn more about how Friends of Trees greens our region + grows community through checking out other issues of Treemail here