The latest cohort of the Adult Urban Forestry & Restoration Training Program moves into their internships
Providing pathways into the green workforce is one of the ways we can help create the next generation of responsible stewards working in our urban forests. How do we do that? The first step is exposing people to roles they can have in this line of work, and doing it in an authentic way so that people really understand their options.
The Adult Urban Forestry & Restoration Program recruits adults from community-based partner organizations to engage in an urban forestry curriculum and places them in an internship with Friends of Trees or an affiliated partner organization. The program is designed to engage underrepresented communities and address barriers to participation in the field of urban forestry. In an effort to do so, participants are paid for their time both learning and working throughout the program with the hope of creating pathways to actual jobs
The program just finished its ten-week curriculum, with each module featuring a different guest presenter and topic. Diversity of subject matter is crucial. Some things you would certainly expect, like the benefits trees provide to communities, how to plant and care for a tree, and how to identify native plants. But the curriculum goes beyond that to include things like environmental justice and financial literacy.
“Some of the curriculum on arboriculture can be pretty academic,” says EDI & Workforce Training Manager Rudy Roquemore. “It was important that we combine that with more informal and authentic conversations.”
Even though these sessions were held virtually, Rudy was pleased with the networking that happened among participants and presenters.
“The goal was to expose people to roles they could have in this field, to speak freely to folks in the industry, and start building tangible skills and connections,” Rudy says. “I didn’t realize how powerful the connections would be.”
Now, the participants are starting their internships, with 100 hours to be completed over the next few months.
“All of the participants are interested in continuing on to participate in the internship portion of the program,” says Rudy. “That’s a huge success, and we want to do our part and continue to support them.” The internships will be with Friends of Trees, Verde, Treecology, Honl Tree Care, Portland Parks & Recreation, and Vancouver Urban Forestry.
“We can make trees relevant to people’s lives,” Rudy says, “by addressing and eliminating barriers to the green workforce. There is a lot of opportunity to grow this program and make a real impact.” A new cohort is set to begin in January 2023.
At Friends of Trees, we are committed to doing everything we can to help our community gain access to the benefits of trees. We are also committed to making our green workforce accessible to all groups of people through the Adult Urban Forestry Training & Internship Program.
As first shared in our November 2018 edition of Treemail, the UF Training Program, funded by the East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District, is a 12 week paid training program focusing on urban forestry and restoration topics. Program participants were selected by local Community Benefit Organizations (APANO, POIC, Verde, and Wisdom of the Elders) that are also Friends of Trees partners. Program participants attended weekly training sessions focusing on landscape design, tree identification, tree maintenance, ecological site design, environmental justice, and careers in urban forestry.
We are now in the first full year of the UF Training Program. The 10-week training program was completed in the fall, followed by the coordination of internships at host sites for program participants. The goal of the entire program is to help people who are interested in the urban forestry and restoration fields gain meaningful work experience and exposure to the field so they can pursue higher education opportunities and higher-level jobs.
We are almost complete with the internship portion of the program, with interns working at varying sites in Portland, Beaverton, and Vancouver, including Honl Tree Care, Portland Parks and Recreation, Verde, and Friends of Trees. Two of our interns, Bruce and David, have been interning with the City of Vancouver’s Urban Forestry program; their internship supervisor, Jessica George, Education and Outreach Coordinator for Vancouver’s UF Program, shares how valuable Bruce and David were to the Urban Forestry team this winter and spring:
“We truly enjoyed hosting two spectacular interns through Friends of Trees,” shares Jessica. “David and Bruce were dedicated to getting the job done–and done to an impeccable standard. David and Bruce supported winter planting projects, pruning and mulching young trees in parks and along streets, and they installed plaques on the new Heritage Trees. Along the way they interacted with other City staff, community members, and dedicated volunteers, while representing Wisdom of the Elders, Friends of Trees, and the City of Vancouver seamlessly. We appreciate their work ethic and that they were open and willing to learn and support Urban Forestry.”
The interns also get a lot out of the experience. Many participants had some exposure to the urban forestry field but hadn’t received upper level mentorship or hadn’t been exposed to the different levels of work involved. When asked about their experience working with Vancouver Urban Forestry, both Bruce and David highlighted the community-building aspect of urban forestry and tree planting:
“It was great to work with that spectrum of the field, with the Urban Forestry department specifically. I never realized it was more than just trees and plants, but it’s also people. The bond that the City builds with residents is really awesome.” –Bruce, UF Intern
David echoed the same sentiments when describing his experience, “My experience was really great. The thing I liked about it was the work we did with the community at planting events. Vancouver UF works with different people and communities and when we plant new trees, it is at community-based events so we can make a bond with the people we work with.”
We are grateful for community members like Bruce and David who are so passionate about making our environment a better place, and for partners like Vancouver Urban Forestry who help make that possible. We look forward to sharing more about this program as is continues and grows, stay tuned!
Picture above, in front, UF Program Intern David at a recent Vancouver planting event with happy tree recipients.