It is Spring! In Minnesota this year Spring has taken a long time to arrive. Spring is one of my favorite seasons – green appears out of the grey, flowers bloom and baby animals start to appear. Today’s organization is dedicated to greening our local community while making a difference in people’s lives.
Tree Trust is an organization serving the state of Minnesota. Their mission is to merge lives and landscapes to improve the community environment by investing in people. Their programs provide meaningful opportunities for greening the local community; give youth the chance to experience success, boost their self-confidence, and find direction; teach practical job skills to help adults re-shape their lives; and help neighbors understand and connect with each other and the natural world.
By the 1970’s, Dutch elm disease had devastated the elm tree population in Minnesota. Elm trees had been popular in neighborhoods prior then, so this disease devastated the urban tree canopy. Tree Trust was created in 1976 to address not only the loss of trees but also the high unemployment and poverty rates for youth and adults at the time. They began combating these issues by providing out-of-work individuals with training and paid jobs reforesting the community. Since their founding, they have expanded to also offer integrated employment training, community forestry and environmental education programs.
They are located in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. They serve the entire state, but primarily focus on the seven county metro area. This year Tree Trust celebrates 35 years of bringing people together to create positive, lasting changes in their lives and in their communities. They believe that amazing things happen when people connect with one another and the natural world.
Tree Trust does not just plant trees. Their projects have included staircases and retaining walls to control erosion, removing buckthorn to give native plants a chance to thrive, creating trails and boardwalks make parks more accessible and enjoyable, building LEED-certified houses that conserve energy and natural resources, and planting thousands of new trees each year, and removing dead and diseased trees to preserve and protect community forests.
Since 1976 Tree Trust has provided job training and employment for 32,000 young people and 10,000 adults; completed hundreds of park maintenance, landscaping and construction projects; planted 72,000 trees and shrubs in schools, parks and community areas; and increased awareness and educated 115,000 students, teachers and community members about the importance of trees and green spaces to the health and vitality of a community.
Volunteers play important roles at Tree Trust. Here are some of the ways they utilize volunteers:
- Hundreds of people volunteer every spring and fall to plant trees with Tree Trust. They provide hands-on training at each event, so no experience is necessary. Individuals, friends, families and groups are invited to volunteer. Children and dogs are also welcome, as long as they’re supervised.
- Volunteers hand out hundreds of trees to residents who participate in municipal tree distributions. These events are great for families, friends and other small groups, however, you must be able to do some heavy lifting.
- Volunteers come help preserve Tree Trust’s past by helping to preserve photos taken over their 35 year history. The archive volunteer position is great for individuals who have a good understanding of computers.
- Volunteers can help by folding letters and stuffing, sealing and stamping envelopes.
- Tree Care Advisors, Master Gardeners or volunteers with a strong interest in trees, can help teach and train the volunteers at their planting events. Volunteers also teach students at “Learning with Trees” school plantings.
- Tree Trust is also open to other volunteer opportunities based on your own interest. Please contact Tracie Huhn to discuss your interests.
Tree Trust is recognized nationally as one of the leading nonprofit organizations that involves diverse urban populations in employment, community forestry and environmental programs. Tree Trust is leaving lasting improvements in Minnesota’s parks, nature areas, schools, neighborhood spaces, community agencies and backyards. Learn more about them at their website, www.treetrust.org. You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube. You can also follow their blog.