OUR CITY FOREST

Rating: 5 stars   16 reviews

Issues: Children & Youth, Environment, Economic Development

Location: 151 W. Mission St. #151 San José CA 95110 USA

Mission: The mission of Our City Forest is to cultivate a green and healthy San José metropolis by engaging community members in the appreciation, protection, growth and maintenance of our urban ecosystem, especially our urban forest.
Results: Our City Forest have planted over 50,000 shade trees in San José since 1994 and is maintaining 2 tree nurseries.
Target demographics: Residents of the San José and the greater South Bay.
Geographic areas served: San Jose, CA
Programs: Green and Healthy Workshop Volunteer Training Tree Inventory Internship Americorps Program Environmental Education Urban Forestry Research Trees for All Trees for Yard Green Vision: Every Tree Counts Planet Tree: Education Program

2011 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

I have been a Tree Amigo for about 15 years. I enjoy planting trees, working with youth from some of the local schools. It is so rewarding to drive around a few years later and see the results of our efforts. There were very few staff when I first joined; now they have Americorps members who do lots of the tasks - from caring for the tree bank, organizing plantings, working with school kids about the value of trees.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Quite well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

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1 previous review
Rating: 5 stars  

Our City Forest is an amazing organization in the heart of Silicon Valley, California. It was founded by Rhonda Berry about 15 years ago and I joined as a volunteer in those early days so have had an opportunity to watch it grow from a few office staff to several office staff and about 40 AmeriCorps people. The arborists work with homeowners on ways to save an ailing tree or the best tree to add to a bare spot.

Many of us have taken several classes about trees: species selection, care, pruning, etc. and are now called tree Amigos.

In addition to planting trees in the City, the AmeriCorps people work with schools to educate the youth about the benefit of trees. It is hoped that their enthusiasm will foster more people caring about trees.

I enjoy working at the Outreach booths where people stop and comment on how well their Our City Forest trees are doing or have questions about their trees. For those who don’t know about our non-profit organization, it is an opportunity to show them all the literature we have and share the benefits of trees. I also try to educate people who post their trees for removal that the benefits far outweigh the problems and that fixing a sidewalk and pruning the roots of the trees will give it many more years to provide shade and beauty to the neighborhood.


I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

At the tree plantings, seeing how happy people are when they pick up their trees and watch the planting demonstrations is a real plus for volunteering. Students who helped plant trees at their schools several years ago are now measuring to see how much they have grown since they were first put in the ground.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

get them more publicity and encourage more people to volunteer.

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Rating: 5 stars  

Planting trees is fun! Actually, it's kind of a lot of work, but interesting work. I volunteered at one of their tree planting days in a neighborhood in South San Jose. They did a very good job of explaining what was needed and having enough senior volunteers to lead everyone else. Where many organizations just say go make things better, this one showed you how and was very well planned. Donuts!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I really enjoy going by the trees we planted and seeing the neighborhood. It's a nice sense of accomplishment to see them grow and the area looks much better already.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Likely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Some

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Likely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Did your volunteer experience have an effect on you? (teaching you a new skill, or introducing new friends, etc.)

I have new superior tree planting skills.

How did this volunteer experience make you feel?

Worn out, but accomplished.

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Rating: 5 stars  

I JUST LOVE OUR CITY FOREST! This organization has a clear mission, enthusiasm and a game plan. Simply put, they get things done. If you are looking for an organization that is not afraid to get its hands dirty and is not afraid of a little work then look no further. OCF has an astounding ability to put Its sometimes limited resources to work in an efficient manner that has the greatest impact on the community. I have been involved with them in their many facets from plantings at schools, community parks, roadways and neighborhoods to education booths and outreach events. 2 thumbs up for Rhonda, OCF staff and Americorps!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the bridge it provides between busy people and environmental concerns.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Did your volunteer experience have an effect on you? (teaching you a new skill, or introducing new friends, etc.)

My volunteer experience with OCF has definitely had and still has a profound effect on me each and every time I go out. The people I meet, including staff, volunteers and tree recipients, have been an absolute delight. I have trudged through a many neighborhoods and have knocked on a many of door that I would not have had the opportunity to do so unless for this fantastic organization.

How did this volunteer experience make you feel?

With every tree planted, it makes me feel I am a part of something bigger than myself.

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1 previous review
Rating: 5 stars  

This is a GREAT organization. I have been a volunteer for over 10 years. OCF's dedication to the community shines through their every effort. I am proud to be a part of their noble cause to foster a healthy urban ecosystem. Their achievement of 50,000 trees planted in San Jose has done wonders to reduce the effects of warming and has helped clean our air; not to mention beautify our neighborhoods. If you are looking for an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than yourself, give Our City Forest a serious look.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I've personally experienced the results of this organization throught the many community involvement opportunities; from workshops, training and plantings.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

work around the clock to foster grants to fund more programs and to plea for the continuation of the AmeriCorp participation

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Anna! Thank you for your all of you hard work over the last 10 years. You are an important asset to this organization. Hope to have your help for another 10+ years!

Rating: 5 stars  

I had a chance to work with the Our City forest Staff while planting trees with the TJ Martin Jeffery Fontana Parks association. I found the experience to be very rewarding. We learned how to plant trees and how to take care of their root. It really like the fact that I can tell my kids that I planted this tree every time I bicycle by it.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I found this group to be very knowledgeable and experienced in the care of trees. I look forward to future plantings.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

none

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Rating: 5 stars  

What a terrific nonprofit! I was a neighborhood association leader for many years, and worked actively with OCF to restore the treescape of our neighborhood which had been neglected for decades. They work enthusiastically, tirelessly, and with expert skill. Also, their cost efficiency is amazing -- they accomplish so much with a shoestring staff and a small budget. Thanks to OCF, our neighborhood now has much-needed shade on our streets, which translates into 1) more walking, 2) less electrical use, 3) less sun-caused pavement damage, 4) more groundwater absorption, and 5) neighborhood pride, among other benefits. A wonderful group -- there's nothing like them in the South Bay!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

With OCF, we planted 100s of trees, many of which are now reaching maturity. The neighborhood went from a feeling of hot and hyper-paved to green and shady.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I can't think of any changes.

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Rating: 5 stars  

I SUPERVISE A GROUNDS DEPT. OF A SAN JOSE SCHOOL DISTRICT.  I HAVE RECEIVED SERVICES FROM OUR CITY FOREST FOR OVER 5 YEARS.  OVER THAT TIME I'VE FOUND THEM TO BE VERY KNOWLEDGEABLE,COURTEOUS AND ACCOMMODATING.  I WOULD HIGHLY RECOMMEND THEM TO ANY ORGANIZATION OR PRIVATE PARTY LOOKING FOR THE TYPE OF SERVICES THEY PROVIDE.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the improvements of my school grounds

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

make no changes

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Role: General Member of the Public
Rating: 5 stars  

Our City Forest provides a fantastic opportunity for the city of San Jose to become a healthier, prettier and greener city. They provide free trees to city residents and schools. They educate the community on how to plant and care for the trees, and on the importance of the trees. I've been to several of their events and have been very impressed by the organization that goes into each event. It's wonderful to see how they work with people, as young as elementary school age through senior citizens. It is a priviledge to have this organization in our city.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Driving through the city, I see many of the trees that would not be there, had it not been for Our City Forest.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Nothing

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Rating: 5 stars  

I've only been volunteering as a Tree Amigo with Our City Forest since 2007, but in that short time have come to love its mission and members. It is a remarkable organization that not only bolsters our urban forest in San Jose, but also provides great educational programs to volunteers and the community. I can only hope that other urban forestry programs have staff and volunteers so committed to the cause. I wish I had more time now to commit to their amazing programs, but even though my participation is spotty, it is always welcomed and appreciated. Our City Forest is community service at its best.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Our City Forest has impacted my life; as a result of my service with them, I am now on a career path advocating environmental sustainability through urban landscape design.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I have heard so many local people outside of San Jose looking for organizations like Our City Forest. It would be great if there could be expansion or the creation of sister organizations to serve those communities.

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Rating: 5 stars  

Actually, more than volunteers, we are now Tree Amigos.

We learned of Our City Forest when we were looking for an appropriate tree to plant in our parking strip. The magnolia related trees that had been in the neighborhood had been sick and weeping and dying for years and the tree my friend had given to me (specially bred by her son, the botanist) when my son died had finally succumbed to the same disease although it had rallied several times after many treatments.

We talked to the city arborist, Ralph Mize, about what kind of tree would be good for our area and he referred us to the Our City Forest site where we learned a lot about trees and were able to choose one we liked.

We took the Tree Amigo training through Our City Forest and have participated in several tree plantings and manned a table for OCF at a couple of neighborhood functions, which was actually fun.

Mostly, we learned a lot about trees, what kind of tree to plant where, how to plant a tree, and the great value of and need for a healthy and abundant city forest. Since we are fairly serious about recycling all sorts of things, taking care of our city forest goes well with the duties we choose to take seriously in our lives.

Plus, we get to meet a lot of great people from just about every age bracket.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

...helping with tree plantings where we could see the results of previous plantings by OCF and how parks and schools were developing thriving city forests of their own.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I don't know enough about the running of the organization to presume to suggest any changes in it, but I do wish they would offer some more advanced classes, even if they need to charge for them. There is so much knowledge in that group. We would like to know more about pruning, particularly for our fruit trees.

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Great idea Doris! More advance classes would be great for any one who have already taken the Tree Amigo classes and want to be more knowledgeable and hands on with the urban forest! We will make a note of your wonderful suggestion.

Rating: 5 stars  

I am a trained Tree Amigo volunteer with Our City Forest. Since December 2010, I have participated in their weekly tree plantings and also worked at their two exisiting tree banks. On an interpersonal level, I have had such overwhelmingly positive experiences with OCF staff, Americorps members, other Tree Amigos, and general volunteers. It is truly a team and community effort in which everyone works, sweats, and laughs together. Experience is not necessary just enthusiasm and the volunteers never fail to provide that in spades. The tree plantings and other events are organized and can accomodate almost all ages groups. It is not an understatement to say that Saturday morning plantings are one of the highlights of my week. OCF has been and will continue to be an invaluable community resource and a wonderful opportunity for all folks, young and old, to learn about trees and their importance to our urban forest.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Several plantings including...Guadeloupe River trail, Saratoga El Quito Park, and countless other parks, schools, and neighborhoods. And I also attended their Tree Amigo course in order to become a trained volunteer for these events.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I would hope that the Americorps members remain a part of the OCF staff, because they are a pivotal aspect of OCF that makes everything possible especially to accomodate the large San Jose metropolitan area.

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