Why we come together to plant trees

Welcome to our 33rd season of planting trees, together!

 

In study after study, researchers have found that people who volunteer lead longer, healthier, happier lives. University of Washington, 2020

32 years ago Portland resident Richard Seidman got some neighbors together to plant trees. Richard absolutely wanted to help the environment, but he also wanted to do something that involved bringing people together, he wanted to “begin something new that might involve hope and a positive new direction.”

 

“My favorite part was seeing my kids plant trees.” FOT volunteer, November 2020

870,000 trees and native shrubs later, we know without a doubt that community tree planting not only works to both bring people together AND fight climate change, community tree planting is an integral and beloved part of the fabric of our community. This is why when COVID hit we didn’t stop, we pivoted and innovated and worked like heck to ensure that we not only continued to plant thousands of trees, we did so with our community.

“I love planting trees and the satisfaction knowing I did something good for the environment.” FOT volunteer, October 2020.

 

As we welcome our 33rd season of planting trees together we’re still pivoting and innovating and working like heck to make community tree planting happen. We’re hosting live and virtual volunteer training events (learn more here!), we’ll continue to implement COVID health + safety protocols, and we are returning (mostly) to how our Saturday morning volunteer tree planting events were pre-COVID:

  • Our Neighborhood Trees events will feature morning gatherings of groups up to 100 volunteers who break down into small groups to plant street and yard trees. As of now all gatherings will be 100% outdoors and we won’t have a potluck lunch after planting; we hope to have coffee + packaged snacks, but bring what you need please!
  • Green Space events will host about 50 volunteers at restoration sites, and we’ll increase these numbers as soon as we are able so we can plant even more seedlings and native shrubs in sensitive natural areas. Providing coffee + packaged snacks are also a goal, but bring what you need!

 

 

“It’s great to be working with a group of people to accomplish something.” Friends of Trees volunteer, April 2021

This last year hasn’t been easy on trees (or people) across the Willamette Valley. The February ice storm and the summer heat dome both damaged our urban canopy and provided further evidence (as if we need more) of just how vital it is that we continue to plant trees.

Friends of Trees is seeing an increase in interest from our municipal partners who are hearing from their communities that they want more trees. These growing partnerships, where more trees are planted with community volunteers, is also further evidence of something else we know to be true: planting trees together is not just valued, it’s priceless.

Our event calendar is live and ready, so hop on and join us. Want a larger role? Check out our key volunteer roles and register for a fun, informative training. We can’t wait to plant trees with you again!

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!

Volunteer Spotlight: Martha & the Neighborhood Coordinator role

As part of our series shining the spotlight on some folks who make all this community tree planting possible, here’s Martha, a Neighborhood Coordinator!

Martha Irvinve (She/Her, second from right) volunteers as a Neighborhood Coordinator, which is a crucial volunteer role in a typical season. NCs work closely with staff members to help answer questions from tree recipients, create outreach strategies, and they help organize the annual neighborhood planting day.

Martha has been NCing and helping FOT prep for planting events for about nine years now; she shares a little about her experience:

Q: Why did you choose to volunteer with Friends of Trees?

A: I’ve been volunteering in various capacities for a wide variety of organizations since my Girl Scout days. I fell in love with volunteering for Friends of Trees because the results of our efforts are so tangible. Also, FOT has a clear vision of what it wants/needs from its volunteers so I always felt productive. Previously, with other organizations, I have had the experience of showing up to volunteer for some activity and the organizers would try to come up with what I might be able to do. Not so with Friends of Trees, there the mission is clear and the tasks well defined.

What advice would you give to other NCs who are fresh into their role?

When we step up to volunteer, we all bring different skills to the table. I would say to begin as NC take on those tasks that you feel comfortable with. As you grow in the role try on some tasks to challenge yourself. For me that was stepping up to say something at the plantings = I do not like public speaking but it’s not so bad when you are talking about something that you are passionate about.

Do you have any volunteer memories that stand out?

A favorite memory is of planting one year with a family who lives around the corner from me. I was out planting that day with a crew that included said family. The two children were about 3 and 6 and they came along with their parents. The 3 year old girl was intrigued by the earth worms in the ground and the 6 year old boy enjoyed digging a bit and then helping compact the soil after the tree was in the ground. The children seemed to delight in helping. But the best part was later when I saw their mother in the neighborhood and she said that her kids knew exactly which trees they had helped plant and they continued to point them out. What’s better than getting kids into planting trees?!

Learn more about the amazingness of Neighborhood Coordinators here. We’ll know more soon about NCs will participate in our upcoming season so keep an eye on this page. Thank you Martha, and all NCs!

Welcoming the return of the sun … with trees

“Each Friends of Trees planting event is a series of moments, whether it’s somebody seeing a lizard, or a kid planting their first tree, or people who just happened to be walking by pitching in to help. One of the best moments is at the end of the day when everyone has a big smile on their face because they’ve really accomplished something: they planted trees.” Matt, Friends of Trees volunteer

     Did you know that the oldest tree in the world is 5,062 years old? It’s a Pinus longaeva (Great Basin bristlecone pine) and it’s in California.

     While we can’t claim with certainty that Friends of Trees just planted the newest tree in the world, it is possible, at least for a moment on any given Saturday, October-April, that we did indeed just plant the newest tree in the world. That’s another Friends of Trees moment: adding a tree–to our region, to our planet. And there are more than 50,000 moments like that every tree planting season.

     As we celebrate the Winter Solstice and welcome the return of the sun we’re thinking about the various ways the shortest day of the year is celebrated, especially, of course, the celebrations that include trees. We’ve learned that some Winter Solstice celebrations include specific trees that have specific meanings; for instance, for some observants evergreens symbolize continuity of life, and oak trees symbolize endurance, strength, protection, and good luck.

     We love this. Here’s how Friends of Trees interprets these special meanings of evergreens and oaks:

Continuity of lifetrees provide oxygen!

Endurance, strengthtrees can live to be hundreds, thousands of years old.

Protectiontrees clean our air and water and help make us healthy.

Good luckto me, it’s clear: the more trees we have, the luckier we are.

     A recent paper by U.S. Forest Service scientists* reported that metropolitan areas in the U.S. are losing more than 30 million trees each year. This is tragic, but thanks to Friends of Trees’ friends and supporters, we’re not fretting, we’re taking action and tackling this loss, together, one moment at a time, one tree at a time – at more than 50,000 moments, and 50,000 trees, every year. You can help us take positive action through making a donation to Friends of Trees today! Your support helps grow our urban canopy, restore sensitive natural areas, and helps build community through planting trees – together.

     Happy Solstice to you and yours, we  look forward to longer days, the return of the sun, and more trees – join us!

Tree Match Makers

Here at Friends of Trees world headquarters, we’re in the business of helping homeowners find their perfect tree match for their space (among other things). We do this through a combination of carefully cultivated tree lists (right tree, right place, y’all) and our superhero Tree Callers who volunteer weekly to call interested homeowners and help them choose their perfect tree.

Our planting successes are due in no small part to Tree Callers who made over 1,800 calls to future tree owners last season, inspiring hundreds of additional trees to be planted. Holy cow, 1,800 calls! The goal of our Tree Caller Team is to connect with homeowners over the phone and guide them to make their ideal tree selection through our online system.

A future Tree Caller in training!

We are currently recruiting new Tree Caller volunteers to join our calling team! If you are an A+, #1 customer service rep (or hope to be!), never met a phone you didn’t like, are known to be capable of navigating our online databases, and have a genuine interest in being a force for trees and their benefits, please consider joining us as a Tree Caller.

{Obvious pun alert} As a Tree Caller, you  ‘plant the seed’ for trees and healthy communities! We meet weekly on Wednesday evenings from July – March. Get in touch with Randi today in the Volunteer & Outreach Program to learn more about this role, sign up to be trained in this role, or to simply have a fun chat about trees or other popular topics, like bikes or pizza. Just waiting for you to get in touch!

Randi Orth is the Volunteer & Outreach Specialist
randio@friendsoftrees.org
503-595-0213