An AmeriCorps program connecting service members and under-resourced communities throughout Washington state
My name is Reggie, and I’m a Washington Service Corps member serving at the City of Vancouver’s Urban Forestry program. Tree canopy only covers 18.6% of the city, rating among the lowest in the state for large urban areas. In my position, I coordinate tree planting projects, helping increase public participation in stewardship of the urban forest.
One such project recently culminated in the planting of 42 street and yard trees along West 33rd Street in the Carter Park neighborhood, installed by 39 community volunteers on Martin Luther King Day. The goals of this project were to calm traffic, create a safer and more pleasant environment for pedestrians, restore tree canopy lost over the years from the neighborhood, and build community through involving the public in planting.
Planning for the project began many months earlier when an urban forestry commissioner mentioned the need for traffic calming and high potential for tree planting along the residential corridor. Working closely with commissioners and neighborhood volunteers, I helped advise the project, canvass nearby residents to offer trees and inform them of the project, recruit volunteers, and put on the event.
On planting day, it was truly rewarding seeing the outpouring of support from our project team as well as the neighborhood and greater community. From across the city, high school students, families, long-term urban forestry volunteers, and curious residents came together to plant trees in honor of Dr. King’s legacy. Through planting trees, we accomplished our project goals and the effects will only appreciate as the trees mature into the future.
Seeing the difference we made for the street after all the trees were installed was euphoric and a reminder of the lasting impact my service is making for Vancouver’s environment and people. Looking at the remainder of my term with AmeriCorps, I am excited and grateful for the opportunities which will arise in bringing the community together to plant, care for, and learn about trees.