Providing job training and leadership skill-building opportunities for youth
Nature deficit disorder is real. It is unhealthy for young people and it is unhealthy for our community and the planet. Educating youth about nature through learning about and planting trees improves the personal health of the students and is creating the next generation of environmental stewards. Top this off with partnerships that include job-training and leadership skill-building and we’re making great strides in growing the next Tree Team generation.
Friends of Trees’ educational programming actively and meaningfully connects youth of all ages with nature while providing hands-on experiences with environmental work. Every year we engage more than 2,500 young people, from elementary school through high school.
Much of our work with youth involves project-based environmental education with at-risk high school students, providing minority, low-income and other under-served young people with hands on job-training and leadership skill-building activities. Students serve in leadership roles through planning, participating in, and leading planting and tree care events with community members throughout the Portland Metro and Salem Metro regions.
“The program creates a sense of belonging to something larger than themselves,” says Leigh Rappaport, Program Manager with project partner Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center. “The students feel that they’re doing something important by helping volunteers learn how to plant trees–and they’re also learning a lot about trees.”
Partners in this work include:
POIC/Rosemary Anderson High School: At-risk youth participate in a POIC job training program through training and serving as Crew Leaders (a key Friends of Trees volunteer role) and helping to plan and implement tree planting events throughout the season.
Cascade Education Corps: Washington County high school students in CEC train as Crew Leaders, and are also trained to work with elementary and middle school students. The older students work with the younger ones on planting teams, serving as their Crew Leaders for tree planting and tree care events.
Chemawa Indian School: Students undergo Crew Leader training and serve as Crew Leaders at Salem-area tree-planting events. The students train and lead community volunteers, as well as their fellow Chemawa students (read more about this partnership below).
What’s particularly encouraging about this program is the overwhelming interest from the students. Friends of Trees Deputy Director Whitney Dorer shares, “Young people really want this, there is a growing, huge demand. For instance, this year 45 students applied for the 15 available POIC spots.” Whitney concludes, “Our vision is to be able to make this available for all young people who are interested, so we are especially grateful to the variety of funders and partners who are investing in today’s youth.”
Pictured above: POIC Program Manager Leigh Rappaport (center) with POIC student Crew Leaders.
Get to Know Our Partnership
with Chemawa Indian School
Friends of Trees has been partnering with Chemawa Indian School in Salem for more than five years. Our partnership includes training Chemawa students as Crew Leaders for our planting events in Salem and engaging hundreds of Chemawa students at tree planting and tree care events, including activities at the Chemawa Indian School campus.
This partnership has been driven by dedicated teachers and staff at Chemawa who are passionate about creating opportunities for the students to participate in their community through improving the environment while building their leadership skills.
Chemawa teacher Paula Stuart explains why the partnership is so valuable to Chemawa,
“Friends of Trees’ offer to donate trees on Chemawa’s campus has increased awareness of the importance of environmental stewardship. Students who might not have otherwise noticed have joined in, sometimes merely tempted by donuts and hot chocolate, then catching the joy of working outside in teams of happy diggers.”
Paula continues, “Science teachers at the school have offered credit for participation and I am ever so happy that this active engagement has influenced several students’ interest in pursuing environmental careers.”
Chemawa student Jasmine (pictured above and at the far left in the top photo), who is in her third season of crew leading with Friends of Trees, shares some of what she’s learned through this partnership, “Being a crew leader is helping me overcome my fear of public speaking and helping me gain confidence to lead groups of people.”
Paula talks about other benefits of the partnership, “Partnering with Friends of Trees has been an ongoing pleasure for many Chemawa students and me for several reasons. I have no doubt that a great deal of their enthusiasm is due to the inclusive and fun philosophy of Friends of Trees staff. This enthusiasm has grown into an absolute infection on campus, making several students step up to crew leader trainings that provide leadership goals for college transcripts and job opportunities.”
Friends of Trees would not be able to complete all of our critical natural area restoration work in Salem without the help of these incredible youth; we look forward to continuing and growing this wonderful partnership.
Think Like a Tree
“Grow strong without notice, be prepared for each season …”
Willamette Week’s Give!Guide runs through December 31st and is a great way to learn about organizations that are doing amazing work on behalf of people, places, critters and causes (including trees + community, of course ;). G!G features Big Give Days when donors are entered to win fabulous incentives like Trail Blazers tickets, vacation packages, and more.
G!G donors to Friends of Trees also get delicious incentives from our generous partners! $10+ donors get a free slice from HOTLIPS Pizza and – new this year! – the first 300 donors of $25 or more get a pint of beer at Level Beer (plus that slice).
TODAY is a big Give Day!All $10+ G!G donors will be entered to win a Trail Blazer Fan Package, so be sure to donate today — THANK YOU!
Holiday gifts from Argyle Winery support trees + community
Through the end of the year Argyle Winery is donating $1.00 per gift set sold in their holiday catalog to Friends of Trees, you can start your shopping here. Cheers!
It’s tree planting season! Join us at an upcoming community tree-planting event, no experience necessary; we supply training, tools, gloves, refreshments and positive vibes. Upcoming volunteer events include:
November 23 in Oregon City
December 7 in Salem December 14 in Wilsonville and Clark County
… and so many more!
Please visit our planting calendarfor exact locations and for more opportunities for you to make a difference through planting trees + growing community.
Friends of Trees inspires people to improve the natural