Friends of Trees
There are multiple ways for people to volunteer in their community and get involved in fixing environmental issues. One option is through Friends of Trees. Friends of Trees is an organization that plants trees and shrubs in neighborhoods and parks. They have currently planted over 870,000 trees.
They have two main planting programs: the Neighborhood Trees program and Green Space program. The Neighborhood Trees program plants in urban areas (in planting strips and in private yards) and the Green Space program plants in parks and natural areas.
Their Neighborhood Tree program currently plants in Beaverton, Gresham, Milwaukie, Oregon City, Portland, Salem, Vancouver, and Wilsonville.
Haley Miller is the Neighborhood Trees Senior Specialist for Friends of Trees. She helps select areas for planting trees in neighborhoods and parks. Miller wants to encourage others to get involved with the organization and learn how they can help the environment.
“Whether it’s growing the urban canopy through planting street and yard trees, or restoring sensitive natural areas through planting native trees and shrubs, there is no doubt that the trees planted by Friends of Trees play a vital role in our region’s livability,” she said.
There are multiple ways that trees help our environment. They absorb rainwater to help reduce flooding, absorb carbon dioxide, and create oxygen. One mature tree can absorb 48 pounds of carbon in a year which covers about 30 to 50 or more miles of driving.
Crew leader, Dr. Jennifer Johns, has been volunteering through Friends of Trees for over two years. Johns teaches biology at Chemeketa Community College and heard about the organization from her students.
As a crew leader, Johns helps instruct and guide tree planting sessions. Like many volunteers, she joined Friends of Trees to help the environment.
“We need to find a way to make cities livable, not just for people, but for the organisms that are displaced by the actual creation of roads and buildings. Bringing habitat into the suburban areas is really essential to keep all those ecosystems functioning,” Johns said.
Besides helping the ecosystem, planting trees can also bring the community together.
“Planting and caring for trees increases community members’ engagement with the environment and overall participation in civic life, including engaging around climate action,” Miller said.
More information about Friends of Trees and planting session sign-ups can be found on their website friendsoftrees.org.