Get to Know Crew Leaders

GOOD JOB! I love being a Crew Leader and I love Friends of Trees. FOT Crew leader

If you are looking for a way to combat climate change and create a more equitable community, you might just be a future Friends of Trees Crew Leader!

If you want to lead the public to plant trees in parks and neighborhoods and you don’t mind working in the mud and rain, then you might be ready to become a Friends of Trees Crew Leader! And we hope you do — all are welcome!

I love being part of this organization and appreciate all the work you do, and how you make it possible for me to contribute in a meaningful way. Thank you. FOT CL

As a Crew Leader, you will join a friendly family of trained volunteers to lead a safe, positive planting experience for volunteers throughout western Oregon and southwest Washington. If you love being outdoors rain or shine and you believe that everyone deserves equal access to the benefits of trees, this might just be the role for you! Learn more and register for the required training here.  Space is limited.

Crew Leaders volunteer several times during our planting season that runs October – April. No experience or special knowledge or education are necessary! As a CL you’ll learn everything you need to know about planting trees at the CL training, and you’ll in turn share that information with teams of community volunteers. You’ll help plant trees, teach and lead others, you’ll move & lift trees and tools, and you’ll play a key role in events that really make a difference!

Every interaction I have ever had with FOT staff and volunteer leaders has been positive and welcoming. And thank you for welcoming my daughter to participate and allowing her to learn and take part in this awesome work! FOT CL

Crew Leaders are particularly needed in Salem, Washington County, Oregon City, Wilsonville, Milwaukie, and Vancouver — these are the areas where we have the most planting events scheduled in the upcoming Oct ’21-May ’22 season. If you’re willing to travel to these areas, that counts too! We’ll be planting at other locations in Multnomah and Clackamas Counties as well, but have fewer events.

Ready to learn more? We’d love to welcome you to the Crew Leader Tree Team!

The man who has planted 3,000 trees (give or take)

Doug Trotter is kind of famous around here.

Doug Trotter
"Sometimes I’ll drive around Portland and see trees I planted. They look a lot different now than when I planted them 15-20 years ago." — Longtime volunteer Doug Trotter

His time planting with Friends of Trees predates most of our staff, and he’s planted literally thousands of trees around Portland as a volunteer crew leader. If you are lucky enough to have him lead your planting crew, ask him about one of his many skills—brewing beer, building neighborhood poetry boxes, and of course, caring for trees.

How’d you get into trees?
I was born in Illinois, and we also lived all around the Pacific Northwest. Everywhere we lived, my dad would plant trees. They kind of grew on me, and I turned that fascination into a lifelong love. I graduated from Oregon State in the 1970s in forest management. Later in life I became a certified arborist. Now I’m doing other things, but I’d say trees have been the focus of my life and still are.

When did you start volunteering with Friends of Trees?
I volunteered with a similar organization in Seattle, so when we moved down here in 1995, I called Friends of Trees and said I’d like to volunteer. There were fewer volunteers then. By my third or fourth planting, I had already become a crew leader. I thought, wow, I moved up fast!

How many trees have you planted?
I never kept a running tally but I can estimate the number is in the 2,000-3,000 area. Let’s just say it has been quite a few!

Sometimes I’ll drive around Portland and see trees I planted. They look a lot different now than when I planted them 15-20 years ago. There’s great satisfaction that they’ll be there long after me, still living and growing and giving back to the community.

What do you think would surprise people about plantings?
When neighbors come out for plantings, they get to talking. Maybe they lived side-by-side and never met before, and they make this connection through trees. That’s a gratifying thing for me, and I think for them too.

How has Friends of Trees changed in the years since you started volunteering?
They’ve become a fine-tuned well-oiled machine. My first time volunteering, we planted maybe 40 or 50 trees with a few crews. Now they plant 400 or 500 trees in a weekend. They also added the natural area teams (Green Space Initiative).

A tree is kind of a big deal because…
Because they’re a real wonder of life. They’re some of the largest organisms on earth, and some of the most beautiful organisms on earth. They’re living miracles to me.

Why We Lead: A Crew Leader’s Vested Interest — Part II

By Jeff Kisseloff, FOT Crew Leader

Continued from Part I yesterday

April 7, 2012 Arbor Day Planting in Eugene
Planting day (Jessyca Burke)

The training session was a snap. Afterward, they asked us to sign up for at least four sessions, so I put my name down for four, then four more and four more, and four more. My wife hasn’t seen me on a Saturday morning since October (except for one morning in January. When we woke up, she took one look at me and asked, “Who are you?”)

She’s ok with it though because every Saturday afternoon, after I come home completely and gloriously filthy (I’m more of a hands-on type  CL) she gets to hear stories about the day: who was on my crew, the challenges we faced and, of course, my rating of the spread: the quality of the hot dishes and whether there were bagels and donuts, the two most important groups on my food pyramid. I’ve planted more than 200 trees these past six months, with the added bonus that I’ve apparently become infinitely more entertaining in the process.

How could I not? Over the last few months, I’ve worked with a surgeon (who could knot twine better than anyone I’ve ever seen), a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, a professional songwriter, a novelist, a state senator and even a fellow who wore a kilt. Most of them, though, were just regular folks, young and old, who made the hard work a delight.

I’d encourage anyone reading this to think about crew leading. If you do, here’s some advice from a grizzled veteran of six months:

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Why We Lead: A Crew Leader’s Vested Interest — Part I

Jeff Kisseloff sports his orange vest (Susie Peterson)

By Jeff Kisseloff, FOT Crew Leader

People can say being a crew leader is all about planting trees and doing something good for the city and the environment, but the truth is it’s really about one thing: the orange vest.

The day you get to put on the orange vest your life changes. Suddenly people look up to you. They expect you to know stuff. They let you tell them what to do. They respect your opinion and even let you ride in the front seat next to the driver. Then there’s the sheer coolness factor of having all those pockets. And don’t forget the clippers. Being a CL entitles you to a pair of clippers. Hold one of those babies in your hand, and you’re a person transformed.

Ok, I’m lying. It has nothing to do with the vest, although the vest is way cool.

If you want to know what it’s all about (and no, the hokey pokey is not what it’s all about), let me tell you how I got involved with Friends of Trees, because my story is probably pretty typical. It began one day last fall when someone rang our bell and asked us if we were interested in having a tree or trees planted on our property by Friends of Trees. We had been in Portland only a little over a year then, having moved across the country from rural upstate New York. We missed the trees on our 40 acres, so the answer wasn’t just yes, it was “Hell, yes!”

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New Crew Leader Update!

By Jenny Bedell-Stiles

We’re kicking into high gear here at Friends of Trees as we enter the thick of the planting season. One indicator of this is, drum roll please … the 85 motivated volunteers who have trained to become Crew Leaders!

The Neighborhood Trees program hosted a successful Crew Leader training on November 5 followed by the fabulous Green Space Initiative Crew Leader training on November 12. Photos in the slide show above were taken by Chijo Takeda on November 12, and photos below were taken by FOT staff on November 5. We are grateful to all who came to get trained, who have now joined our skilled, energetic, and terribly good looking Crew Leader ranks.

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