by Susie Wasserstrom, Community Engagement Program Manager
It’s a time of year for giving thanks, and I’m thankful that volunteers will soon be able to join our tree plantings again.
We suspended planting trees altogether during San Francisco’s shelter-in-place order last year. When that was lifted, we got back to work with staff-only planting crews. This summer, we invited planting leaders — our most experienced volunteers — to join us. And we’re now making plans to welcome all volunteers to participate again when it’s safe to do so.
Rebuilding our volunteer workforce is an urgent job for Friends of the Urban Forest.
Our Community Engagement team recruits volunteers and supports them at tree plantings — from checking them in with smiles and free coffee to ensuring they’re fed lunch and thanked after their work is done — but that’s not the only way we contribute to the vitally important greening of San Francisco.
Long before a tree planting happens, we talk with residents to increase their interest in having more trees in the neighborhood — and, if they’re opposed, we listen to their concerns and try to address them.
Growing a thriving urban forest takes more than just planting trees. Our Community Engagement team does the essential “groundwork” wherever trees are most needed.
Divya and Arjun started volunteering with us when they moved from India to the Bay Area in 2018. They’re now planting leaders, having gone through a training with our staff to deepen their tree knowledge.
Some volunteers go on to become members of our staff, such as my colleague Crystal, a former volunteer who is now a Community Tree Planting Manager.
Recruiting dedicated volunteers like Divya and Arjun is key to our effectiveness.
As we rebuild this pipeline of tree lovers and tree planters, I’m expanding our Community Engagement team to meet the growing need. I’m proud that this team — with your support — will be instrumental in helping Friends of the Urban Forest reach its goal of planting 1,500 trees this year — and even more next year!
Want to double your impact? Your tax-deductible gift to Friends of the Urban Forest is eligible for corporate charitable gift matching. Talk to your employer today, and you may be able to match your contribution!