OUR NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR TALKS ABOUT OAK TREES, CALLING HIS MOM, CLIMATE CHANGE, AND MORE
Friends of Trees welcomed our new Executive Director on January 11th and it’s safe to say that Yashar Vasef hasn’t had a dull moment. He’s jumped right in, meeting one-on-one with staff; attending planting events; answering volunteers’ questions; and talking with project partners.
Here’s a peek into a conversation with Yashar about his organizational observations and goals, his favorite tree, how he unwinds, and so much more (a link to our conversation in its entirety follows, which you’ll have to read to the end to find out what his favorite tree is):
“I came to Friends of Trees wanting to be somewhere that is on the front lines of addressing climate action, and where the benefits of the mission in action are both local and global. I love it!”
What new & interesting tree tidbit have you learned since you joined the Tree Team? That oak trees help support more than 70 species of wildlife!
What’s the first thing you did, Day 1, as the new Friends of Trees Executive Director? I had a wonderful chat with Mary, our office manager and most tenured staff member – she’s been around for more than 25 years! Right away, she made me feel at home and I knew this was going to be a welcoming environment.
How did you unwind after that Day 1? I like to go on evening strolls, and I recall phoning my mom on that walk after I wrapped up work. The family is very tight-knit in Iranian culture, so naturally, she had to know every example of minutiae stemming from that first day.
One of the current challenges for Friends of Trees? There is the issue of the urgency of NOW as it relates to climate action. We are ready to roll up our sleeves and plant more trees, but are elected officials and the community willing to invest in this work in a way that will produce profound benefits not just for our communities here, but the planet as well?
YOUNG PEOPLE CREATING CLEANER, GREENER COMMUNITIES
Project Zero intern Adrián Moreno just completed his internship with Friends of Trees and to celebrate the milestone he recently guest-starred on our Instagram account to share a little bit about his experience:
“I wanted to help mitigate the environmental crisis that we are all living right now, so I applied to the PGE Project Zero intern position and got the job!”
Read more about Adrián’s experience and his next steps (hint: trees are still involved!).
The Eugene Branch
NEWS FROM FRIENDS OF TREES EUGENE
Mattie Reynolds Park was the perfect site for our MLK Day of Service.
Along with 17 new trees, a new park in the City of Eugene has great historical significance. Mattie Reynolds Park, the site of our January 18th Martin Luther King Jr Day of Service, honors one of Eugene’s founding Black families, Sam and Mattie Reynolds.
The Reynolds’ fight for civil rights was one of their many important contributions to Eugene and the surrounding area, and adding trees to the park that bears their name seems a fitting MLK Day event.
Friends of Trees Eugene, and the City of Eugene, with sponsorship support from Mountain Rose Herbs, hosted the community tree planting event that added the new trees to Mattie Reynolds Park, along with planting 31 trees in surrounding neighborhoods. Read more.
Photo: Community volunteers plant trees at Mattie Reynolds Park. Photo courtesy of Dean Walton.
IN HONOR OF BLACK HISTORY MONTH: THE BLUEPRINT FOUNDATION
The Blueprint Foundation works to expose Black urban youth to learning opportunities they usually do not get to access. Friends of Trees is proud to be a partner to the Blueprint Foundation’s Grounding Waters program, where students learn about careers in environmental science while taking an active role in environmental stewardship.
“The ultimate goal is to eliminate the opportunity gap that we see for Black youth.”
-Jason Stroman, Program Director, Blueprint Foundation