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Tree Ambassador

We Love Our Volunteers!

Our volunteers are amazing. Trees for Seattle is proud of all the great projects our Tree Ambassadors are taking on throughout Seattle. In 2016 our incredible volunteers helped us accomplish so much, including leading 16 Tree Walks, 36 Tree Stewardship work parties, planting dozens of trees for elderly and disabled residents, and inventorying street trees in Georgetown and Rainier Beach.

Let us introduce you to some of our wonderful volunteers!

Spotlight on Adam

Adam has planted dozens of trees for residents in need of planting assistance.

We really cannot gush more about our stellar volunteer Adam! Since joining the Tree Ambassador team in 2015, he has done so much to care for and promote Seattle's urban forest. Adam adopted the 35th & Lane triangle in Leschi organizing a series of productive work parties to care for the mature trees, created and led the first Leschi Tree Walk, organized and led several successful work parties to care for Leschi's young street trees, planted dozens of trees for residents in need of physical assistance, helped Trees for Seattle staff train incoming volunteers, and contributed many volunteer hours in support of his fellow Tree Ambassadors' projects.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m originally from New York and lived in NYC for 7 years before moving to Seattle with my wife (a homesick Redmond-native) in early 2014. While in New York, I dressed nicely and worked on Madison Avenue for the insurance and publishing industries, nary involved in urban forestry nor environmental restoration. My interest (and awe) in trees stemmed from the specimens I saw during my thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail in 2014. I now work as a marketing coordinator at The Watershed Company, a Kirkland-based environmental and landscape architecture consulting firm.

When did you first start volunteering with Trees for Seattle? What inspired you to become a Tree Ambassador?

I was looking for ways to get involved shortly after my wife and I moved into our Leschi apartment. While walking home from work one day, I noticed a sign posted to the traffic triangle across from our building that advertised the Tree Ambassador program. It asked that someone “claim this space,” or something to that effect, and the tag line worked. While learning more about my new interest, I found a foothold toward making this neighborhood my home and taking proactive measures to make it a better place (the triangle had overgrown salal that impeded the views of both oncoming vehicle and bicycle traffic; in fact, my father-in-law got into a car accident in the area while helping us move in).

Since becoming a Tree Ambassador, what projects have you organized/ worked on?

Although my home base is Leschi, I try to keep active throughout the city—whether it’s attending other Tree Ambassadors’ work parties, planting trees for at-need residents as part of the Trees for Neighborhoods program, or serving as another pair of hands for assorted Trees for Seattle initiatives. Specifically, I created the Leschi Tree Walk and have organized and led over five work parties across the neighborhood. I’m currently scouting out my next Tree Walk and updating my last.

What do you most enjoy about being a Tree Ambassador?

There’s something deeply fulfilling about looking at a freshly planted tree or a weeded site and knowing I’ve made a difference, that this could be something that encourages another person to get involved or invested in our urban forest. Hand-in-hand with this feeling is a sense of camaraderie, as—unless the work party is scheduled during a Seahawks game—there are always new people to meet with different skills and stories. So, people and being dirty. Check.

Spotlight on Al

Al leading the Hiawatha Park Tree Walk.

Since joining the Tree Ambassador team, Al has created and led 4 new Tree Walks in West Seattle. We appreciate Al's enthusiasm and his impressive interest in continuously expanding his tree knowledge and identification skills. Even during his winters in Mexico, Al is studying and writing articles on local trees. If you have an opportunity, check out one of Al's self-guided walks in Admiral, North Admiral, Hiawatha Park, or Lincoln Park or join us for a guided walk in 2017!

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a retired college professor and have been living in West Seattle for the last fourteen years. I taught political science with a specialty in Middle East and South Asia at the University of Idaho for 33 years and finished up my career at the University of Washington's Jackson School of International Studies. About 8 years ago, I began studying how to identify trees in Seattle. My collection of "tree books" has grown to a library of 40-50 that now includes numerous volumes on tropical plants and trees. My daily walks to get some exercise almost always result in bringing home a pocket full of leaves or photographs of trees so I can match them against the illustrations in my books. When my wife and I spend the winter months in Puerto Vallarta I also gather leaves and photograph trees everywhere I go.

What inspired you to become a Tree Ambassador?

Over 60 people attended Al's Lincoln Park Tree Walk.

About 3 years ago, a friend of mine who knew of my interest in trees came across an online city map of Seattle's street trees. When I typed in "Seattle trees" into my browser to find the site, I found the Trees for Seattle page. I was intrigued with the call for volunteer Tree Ambassadors who would give Tree Walks in their neighborhood. My wife had been urging me for years to do “something useful” with my tree hobby. I thought this was a way to do something worthwhile that blended in beautifully with my interest. I also reasoned that being involved with professionals I could gain a lot more knowledge of trees than by studying on my own. This has certainly proved true! Trees for Seattle staff have taught me and helped me a great deal in my quest to identify the trees of Seattle.

Tell us about your project.

As a full-fledged Tree Ambassador, I led two Tree Walks this past summer. One was in Lincoln Park, which has so many interesting and rare trees. Over 60 people attended the walk. The second walk was in Hiawatha Playfield, one of the Olmsted brothers' first projects in Seattle, which also has many unique trees.

I am now planning 3 new Tree Walks in West Seattle in 2017 - one through lower Fauntleroy Way, which will include part of the Colman Mansion grounds (also designed by the Olmsteds); another at Me-kwa-Mooks Park that overlooks Puget Sound and has many interesting trees in a small space; and one in the Alki neighborhood, which has many trees with interesting stories.

What have you most enjoyed about being a Tree Ambassador?

What I like best about being a Tree Ambassador is being able to blend my love of identifying trees with an important cause. I think the goal of Trees for Seattle to make people more aware of their urban environment and to protect trees is a valuable tool for creating community in our city. I must say that as a retired college professor, I enjoy having a captive audience hanging on my every word. I also enjoy the ‘field research,’ finding new trees and then doing the ‘library research’ of connecting these trees with those discussed in my tree book library. Finally, I love the walks in the open air, both to find the trees and to lead groups curious to learn something about them. So I am looking forward to the years ahead in working with Trees for Seattle.

Spotlight on Shengyuan

Sharon at her adopted landscape before her first work party.

In 2015, Shengyuan (Sharon) adopted the four Ravenna traffic bulbs at the intersection of NE 52nd St & 22nd Ave NE. When she adopted the site, the trees were being engulfed by aggressive English ivy and other weeds. Sharon helped recruit and organize volunteers for two work parties to remove the weeds and replant with attractive native plants that benefit our urban forest.

Tell us about yourself.

I am a graduate student at UW and will be graduating this coming June. I grew up in a small city in China, and this is my first time in my life to study abroad in a western country.

When did you begin volunteering with Trees for Seattle? What inspired you to become a Tree Ambassador?

When I came to Seattle, I discovered my passion for environmental sustainability and decided to devote my time to the thing that everybody can’t live without. I signed up to become a Tree Ambassador without hesitation, as I love the trees surrounding our neighborhoods and wanted to help bring people fresh air and beauty.

Sharon and volunteers after her first work party in October.

Tell us a little about your project.

I adopted the traffic bulbs in Ravenna at the intersection of 22nd Ave NE and NE 52nd St. When we began, 2 of the bulbs were covered with weeds, mainly invasive English ivy. Seattle reLeaf helped me select dates and I held my first weeding party in the middle of last October. At our first event we had roughly 8 people come to help and we got pretty exhausted after 3 hours of pulling out the tenacious ivy by rolling it up as a carpet. At the first work party, we cleaned up almost all of the weeds and mulched, everybody felt tired, but the experience was very rewarding because of what we accomplished.

We held our second work party in early February and planted over 50 new plants. This time, we had more than 20 volunteers, including University of Washington students and neighbors. I feel really grateful for all the volunteers who came out to my events. Without them, we couldn’t have made such a great impact in Ravenna. Now, I hope for all the plants to live happily in their new home.

What have you most enjoyed about being a Tree Ambassador?

I like working in the yard. I enjoy working with people who also care about trees, the environment and our community. I also gained skills through this process, such as public speaking, donation procuring, and communication. This is more than just renewing an urban forestry site. This is about making friends, improving skills, enhancing my confidence, and of course, training some muscles as well!

Spotlight on Natasha

Natasha joined the first Tree Ambassador cohort in 2013 and developed the Freeway Park Tree Walk in downtown Seattle, which she has led in both English and Spanish. Natasha has also contributed many volunteer hours to her fellow Tree Ambassador's projects, including both Tree Stewardship work parties and Tree Walks.

Tell us about yourself.

I was born in Santiago de Chile and am a duo-citizen of Chile and the United States. I came to live in Seattle in 2012 and was lucky to find Tree Ambassador that same year and become part of this fun group.  I am a graduate of the University of Puget Sound with a Bachelors in Science focused mostly in biology and botany. Trees, plants and wildlife, in general, have always been a passion for me inspired by my mom who is a forest engineer.

Tree Ambassador Natasha

When did you begin volunteering with Trees for Seattle? What inspired you to become a Tree Ambassador?

I was lucky to find Tree Ambassadors the first year I lived in Seattle by running into a fellow Tree Ambassador when I was in a walk with my friends in the park. I have volunteered all my life in different fields, but when I learned I could help by doing something I absolutely loved, it was even better. Tree Ambassadors gave me the tools and confidence to help our earth even more.  The best part is that now I feel I can write and guide a tree walk anywhere in the world. I wrote the Jim Ellis Freeway Park Tree Walk in Seattle, then one in Plaza Ricardo Vicuna in Los Angeles city, in the VIII Region of southern Chile and a Tree/Plant walk in Naknek, Alaska, for “Fishtival” (it was mostly a plant walk because in the tundra there is not many trees other than one of the smallest in the world ‘Arctic Willow’, soo cute, and some other willow species that were introduced, in Naknek, also Picea mariana, Black spruce). I also have helped along the years by planting trees and plants, mulching, weeding, and other fun outdoor activities through Seattle reLeaf, Stars at Carkeek Park, Friends of Burke Gilman Trail, EarthCorps and more.

Natasha leading the Freeway Park Tree Walk.

Tell us a little about your project.

The second place I lived after moving to Seattle was First Hill. I would walk or bike down the hill, through Freeway Park and the Convention Center to work every morning and then back home every night. It may sound a bit cuckoo but I remember thinking to myself wouldn’t it be great if I could greet every tree on my way through the park by their respective names with a good morning. What a wonderful idea to learn each tree by its name and also write a Tree Walk, thus learning a little bit of each species. It turned out to be a great idea but mostly lots of fun.  Freeway Park is not only a wonderful park due to its strange location (above interstate 5), its interesting architecture but also because its many varieties of trees and plants. There are at least 8 different magnolias, 5 varieties of maples, hemlocks, larches, tupelo and many more trees. It was also a great opportunity to use my Spanish language and make the first Spanish tree walk

What have you most enjoyed about being a Tree Ambassador?

Some of the things I’ve most enjoyed being a Tree Ambassador is making new friends and working with people that have similar interest. Knowing that there are people out there that care about trees and are willing to help conserve nature, especially in an urban setting, makes me happy. I can live in a city and enjoy nature right here. Personally, I believe if we teach others what great treasures we have right in front of our eyes they will in turn take better care of them, making them their own as well. Trees are good in so many different ways. The more we know about them, the better we can appreciate them. Tree Ambassadors is a wonderful ongoing experience.

Find out more about how you can join our volunteer team

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