“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.
Well it is sunny for once in Oregon and I’m glad it’s not too hot since I know the trees aren’t huge fans of 90 degree heat for multiple days. Although, that’s not the case for humans but you can’t have it all. Enough of the weather, I want to talk to you all about an exciting volunteer role that we are recruiting for here at Friends of Trees. We are looking for folks to jump into the role of Neighborhood Coordinator! But what does a Neighborhood Coordinator entail? Great question!
Here is a brief explanation of what the volunteer role might look for you: Together, NCs and Friends of Trees staff guide neighborhood plantings from beginning to end. No need to be an expert! Interested volunteers will be trained and supported throughout the planting that you will be coordinating. Together with staff, you will:
- Help coordinate one neighborhood planting per year (November-April);
- Respond to homeowner inquiries by email & phone;
- Make phone calls to homeowners that have not ordered their tree(s) to help them make their decision;
- Solicit pick-up trucks or open trailer pullers from neighbors;
- Recruit additional volunteers (Takes quite a few volunteers for one planting);
- Solicit food/monetary donations from the community for breakfast/lunch;
- Set up/coordinate breakfast & lunch for the volunteers on planting day
This is just a brief snapshot of what the volunteer role could be for you! We need NCs in these neighborhoods below:
Here are a few pictures that illustrate the results of what NCs accomplish:
If you know of anyone interested in the role (or yourself) and happen to be in a neighborhood listed in the table above please send them our way, share this blog with them, and cross your fingers that they sign up for the role with our handy registration form. REMEMBER, the best way to share volunteer opportunities is still through word of mouth (or text since that’s how folks seem to communicate nowadays).
Hope you continue to have a great Summer and kudos to you for making it through this detailed blog post!!
Pablo Brito is the Volunteer & Outreach Specialist for Friends of Trees
“Friends of Trees does more than simply plant a tree at a Vancouver resident’s house. They plant the right tree, the right way, in the right location.” -Charles Ray, City of Vancouver Urban Forester
For 16 years Friends of Trees has been planting the right trees, the right way, for Vancouver residents in partnership with the City of Vancouver. Currently more than 500 trees are planted every year here, thanks to the help of hundreds of community volunteers.
Vancouver’s Urban Forester, Charles Ray, reflects on this long-lasting, impactful partnership, and the important role trees play in the community,
“Vancouver has a long history with trees and considers trees community assets that provide multiple benefits, including clean water. The simple truth is trees in the community have practical, quantifiable values and are not merely decorations. They provide essential benefits that we cannot live without.
“We are fortunate to have an organization like Friends of Trees that shares the same mission and helps us accomplish more. Most municipal programs across the country dream of having an opportunity such as this. Friends of Trees does more than simply plant a tree at a Vancouver resident’s house. They plant the right tree, the right way, in the right location.
“Friends of Trees engages that person several times through the process, enabling staff and volunteers to share the benefits of trees and educate them about the City’s processes and requirements around trees. It also offers them an opportunity to engage hands-on with the community asset, the tree that will be planted in front of their house. This often leads to stronger community connections and civic involvement, and knowledge of the benefits, how to care for and needs of the urban forest.
“Planting the right tree in the right place and giving it the right care and pruning make all the difference to ensuring a healthy urban forest today and for generations to come. It only takes a minute to improperly prune or remove a tree but a lifetime to grow one.
“We cannot do it alone. I am excited by Friends of Trees’ commitment to Vancouver and the community’s efforts to meet this need. If I could ask for one thing it would be participation from the business community to sponsor plantings so that we can increase our annual planting goals with Friends of Trees.”
Charles, we couldn’t say it better ourselves; Vancouver businesses, join us!
Pictured above: Far left, Jessica George, City of Vancouver; standing, third from left, UF Program intern Bruce
This is from the April 2019 edition of our e-news, Treemail; check out that issue of Treemail, and others, here.