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.
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.
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 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!
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.
Treena Mascot 06/02/2011
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!
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.
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 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.
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.
Treena Mascot 06/02/2011
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.
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 love trees. I originally volunteered with OCF in January of 2004, assisting with a tree-planting activity in a local park. I enjoyed the experience (exercise, camaraderie and sense of accomplishment) so much that I enrolled in OCF's formal training class for "Tree Amigos". Since that time I have volunteered regularly with them, planting young trees all over the city of San Jose. OCF is a great organization which is now responsible for the majority of new trees planted in this city. They provide an opportunity for young and old to work together to beautify and improve the quality of life in all of our communities.
I volunteered with my neighbors to plant 7 trees at a school in my neighborhood. The OCF staff was very responsive and helpful in allowing us to volunteer in our own neighborhood. On the day of the tree-planting, the arborist was very informative and provided an in-depth demonstration. I worked with other volunteers to plant, stake and water the trees. I learned alot about urban forestry practices and look forward to volunteering with Our City Forest again in the future.