An incredibly challenging planting season has come to a close and we are indebted to many people who went above and beyond to help make sure 21,000 trees + native shrubs were planted. We’ll be highlighting a few of these folks over the coming months, volunteers who really made a difference, despite the obstacles.
Meet Mallory Pratt!
Mallory (she/her) started volunteering back in 2013. Ever since she’s been a powerhouse planting, pruning, summer inspecting where it’s most needed. When it comes to community tree work Mallory does it all! In her own words:
I love trees and Friends of Trees is an amazing organization that puts science and civics and people and fun all together to give our urban landscape more of them! How could I not volunteer?
C19 reminded me that the people part is just as important as the tree part! Not just cause it’s harder to plant a tree by yourself, but because sharing tree love with others and learning together is so much fun:) That and I soooo miss the lunch potluck.
Do you have any memories of the 20-21 planting season that stand out?
Digging through Missoula-flood-soil to make the right size hole for a surprisingly big native oak by myself.
The joy of having an Assistant Crew Leader to work with in February!!
Not loading and unloading trees from trucks:) Thank you Friends of Trees staff who did so much heavy lifting and coordination of that!!!!
Connecting with homeowners desperate to talk to someone they don’t live with:)
What advice do you have for other Crew Leaders? Share what you’ve learned and learn from others. Smile a lot.
Planting manager Ian Bonham shares a few words about Mallory : Mallory’s been planting with FOT longer than I have, but it wasn’t until this season that we finally got to have a bit of one-on-one time. There was this week in January where I kept running into Mallory at the FOT house when she was picking up tools and maps to plant or prune a route of trees. We had a few long conversations in the FOT parking lot, joking about our muddy masks, hunting for public restrooms, and the peculiarities of planting trees in a pandemic. I literally screeched with laughter a few times and she really lifted my spirits during a pretty dark time. Several weeks later I got repeated requests from volunteers who wanted to be on her planting crews—I can totally understand why. Mallory clearly finds real joy in doing good work for and with her neighbors, and she does a great job of sharing it too.
Mallory, thank you for buoying this work the last 8+ years, but particularly during these pandemic daze! You have a big heart, and like Ian (kinda) said, your joy is a contagion that we wanna catch!!
March 13, 2020
Dear Friends of Trees family,
Because we love you and we want to do our part to diminish the risk of COVID-19 in our community, we are making adjustments to the remainder of our planting season events. Tree planting in the near-term is important to this world; it is not more important than our immediate human health. Currently, all Friends of Trees events in the month of March are canceled. We will let you know about April and beyond when we know.
As we take into account the recommendations of health professionals, we’re asking for your understanding as we reserve the right to continue to change and cancel our events. Please check our online events calendar for the latest information about the status of Friends of Trees events.
The Friends of Trees office is closed to the public through the rest of the month. Staff will work on-site, in the field, or remotely as much as possible, but in the interest of everyone’s health we ask that you not visit our office this month. We’ll keep you posted about April and beyond. If you need to reach us email will be the most effective (it’s not always possible to check our voicemail remotely), you can find a staff directory here; please be patient as it may take a little extra time to get back to you.
Meanwhile, we’re still planting trees. Using a variety of methods and with a variety of partners, as long as it’s OK to do so we will be out there planting trees. It will be hard, and it won’t be nearly as fun as when you’re with us, but, well, it’s what we do and we’ll keep doing it as long as we can.
If you are registered to have a street or yard tree planted at your property, rest assured, your tree/s will be planted. It may not be on the date we planned, nor will it be planted with a team of your neighbors (at least in March), but your tree will be planted. Unfortunately we cannot tell you exactly when your tree will be planted, but don’t be surprised if one day you look out your window and you see a couple of us with shovels. Go ahead and wave. We’ll wave back.
This is all uncharted territory so thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate this together.
Take care and stay healthy,
Interim Executive Director
“We need to do something bigger than ourselves.”
– Mohamed, Friends of Trees volunteer since 2014
Mohamed and his wife Farah, and their children and friends, have planted hundreds of trees with us in memory of their daughter, Ayan. Farah very candidly shares why, “Every tree that we plant I feel like it’s for her. And I think about all of the benefits that all these trees will produce … it keeps on giving. It’s a way of sharing her with the world.”
This beautiful video shares the story about why Mohamed, Farah, and their family plant trees together in honor of Ayan:
“When you are outdoors and in nature you tend to forget whatever problems you may have. When you go into nature with others and look at the beauty, how big things are … it has that healing process.” -Mohamed
The more than 50,000 trees and shrubs we plant every year with so many community volunteers transform neighborhoods and natural areas. Trees clean our air and water, cool the planet, provide habitat—and can help us feel better. There are many examples of how trees improve our health; just the act of planting a tree can be personally transformative; digging in the dirt with the hope and intent of something taking root just feels good.
It’s about trees and it’s about community. When we come together to plant trees we are doing something good, we’re making a difference and we’re making our world a better, more welcoming place.
There is so much we can do that is bigger than ourselves. Donating to Friends of Trees’ programs that plant trees and grow community will help our planet and its inhabitants for generations to come. As Mohamed also shared, “Planting trees really will outlive us. The effort that you put is so small, the benefit is just gigantic.”
Thank you for the gigantic act of supporting trees + community. We look forward to planting trees with you!
Volunteers talk, we listen.
As we prepare for our 31st season of planting trees + growing community we’re taking time to reflect on the feedback of the folks who make this all possible: our incredible and unparalleled volunteers.
We know there’s a lot to love about volunteering with Friends of Trees, and we also know we’re not perfect. To find out what works and what doesn’t, last season we surveyed more than 500 volunteers after events; here’s a sampling of what we learned and how we’re incorporating the feedback to make our programs stronger.
Would you recommend volunteering with Friends of Trees? Yes, absolutely!
96% of survey respondents would recommend volunteering with Friends of Trees.
“It was nice to do something for the community with good people.”
We also learned that the majority of volunteers came out because they wanted to do something good.
More good news:
The average “grade” for the Friends of Trees volunteer experience was a B+ (89); more volunteers than not felt more connected to their community after volunteering; and the vast majority learned something new about trees or the environment and felt prepared for their volunteer experience.
“Really nice people. I have volunteered 7 or 8 times and loved every time.”
“Those running the program were great, the people I met were great. This was a good feeling, getting out and helping like-minded individuals accomplish something for the greater good. Thanks for that!”
“Planting a tree in my yard with my neighbors was a great experience and memory that I will cherish.”
“It is wonderful to see so much community spirit. I loved seeing the bicycle delivery team!”
Folks had questions or need more information about:
What to expect at a Friends of Trees volunteer event.
“Even a rainy day failed to dampen my enthusiasm.”
We get it, not everyone loves to be outside early on a Saturday morning in the cold rain planting trees in the mud. Of course, it’s not always like that, but tree planting season is October – April because cool, wet conditions are best for the trees, giving the young trees we’re planting the absolute best chance of survival.
We plant trees. Lots of trees. Thousands of trees. And we do this in all weather – warm and sunny, cold and rainy. It gets muddy. It’s physical. This is how we make a difference – and, together, we make a big one: 50,000+ trees and native shrubs planted every a year, with more than 800,000 trees and shrubs planted since 1989.
Cold rain not for you? No problem, there are other ways you can help make a difference, through helping secure food for events, making phone calls, driving a truck … learn more about other volunteer roles here.
We learned that not everyone loves a bucket brigade. We do our best to let folks know what they’re in for, be it a tree planting event or a tree care event, and we’ll do more to let folks know the difference between volunteering for a tree planting event and a tree care event—because, yes, we want the trees we plant to survive and thrive so we do tree care, too!
The use of pronouns during introductions.
Friends of Trees will always strive to be a welcoming and safe place for everyone, regardless of age, ability, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, political views, economic status or anything else that makes you special. Without our volunteers, we are nothing. But together we do amazing things.
There were quite a few comments about our use of pronouns during introductions (for example, “My name is Jenny, I use she/her pronouns.” Or, he/him, they/them, etc.). Most were very positive but some people didn’t understand why we do this.
We understand that getting used to anything new can cause some people to feel a little uncomfortable or can simply just generate questions; we believe it’s well worth it so that others feel seen and welcome.
This response sums it up perfectly:
“As a trans person I really appreciated the affirmation of gender pronouns! It was much nicer that everyone shared at the start than having to correct people later :)”
As a community driven organization Friends of Trees fosters an atmosphere of inclusion and support. We continually work to improve and enhance these efforts and we are so grateful that our community of volunteers supports this:
“I will cherish the fact that in a group of volunteers ranging in age from 10- 65, people were using their pronouns as they introduce themselves. I think it was a learning experience for everyone.”
“I appreciate that you’re trying to reach out for a more diverse population of volunteers.”
“Everyone was so welcoming and kind.”
“There didn’t seem to be enough trees for our group.” “There were so many trees to plant!”
At most of our 100+ events we get the ratio of volunteers:trees planted right. We also acknowledge there is a fine line between too many volunteers and not enough volunteers, and walking this line is both an art and a science.
We assess the planting location, the number of trees to be planted, types and sizes of trees and shrubs, the size of the planting site, how many volunteers attended last year … all of this factors into how many volunteers are ideal for each location and we create a goal for each event. Sometimes more folks show up than registered; other times, people don’t show up. We’re humans, this happens. We do our best to account for this and create the best volunteer experience possible.
We sincerely value the time and effort of our volunteers and regularly work on how best to ensure each event has the ideal number of volunteers to trees. Last season we began asking all volunteers, not just groups, to pre-register for events and that’s made a big difference. And guess what? Registration for the 2019-2020 Friends of Trees season is now open! Check out our event calendar and registration information and join us for another season of planting trees + growing community.
We’ll leave you with one final quote:
“These times in our world are troubled and the news is often grim; each time I volunteer for a Friends of Trees planting I receive a huge dose of hopefulness. The sheer numbers of volunteers with all their varying stories coming together to volunteer when it is cold, wet, muddy is a great dose of joy. Plus, I have been to places previously unknown to me. Abundant riches are added to my life each time.”
PGE has supported Friends of Trees since our beginning, contributing time and funding toward our shared goals of greening our region and building community.
As Friends of Trees has grown, PGE’s support has grown. PGE has sponsored hundreds of tree planting events over the past three decades, and its employees have donated hundreds of volunteer hours. And in honor of 30 years of trees + community PGE has announced a special gift that will help Friends of Trees reach the milestone of one million trees planted since our inception.
“To celebrate Friends of Trees’ significant impact on our beautiful state, we’re investing $100,000 and volunteer power, over the next five years, coming together with the community and our customers to reduce carbon, strengthen neighborhoods and improve our environment.” -Kregg Arntson, PGE’s director of Corporate Social Responsibility
In addition to donating time and money, PGE partners with Friends of Trees to plant the right type of tree in the right place. This helps prevent tree-related power outages, contributing to safe, reliable power for customers.
Friends of Trees cannot plant 50,000+ trees and native shrubs every year without the support of sponsors like PGE. Their support, since our founding, has been key in our ability to plant 800,000 trees and native shrubs to date with tens of thousands of volunteers. We are just thrilled that PGE’s $100,000 pledge will help us get to the incredible milestone of one million trees planted.
This story is from the Summer 2019 edition of our e-news, Treemail; check out the rest of Treemail here.