Forterra is an environmental non-profit that secures keystone lands with the goal of creating a sustainable future for all. I, Fate, am an Americorps member and stewardship associate who facilitates volunteer events, restores urban forests and riparian areas, and monitors lands across the Puget Sound. For the past season, I have mainly been working with volunteers in several different cities to restore urban forests through planting trees and removing non-native species. My Americorps teammates and I have worked with over 700 volunteers, planted over 2,000 native plants, and removed countless amounts of non-native weeds. This restoration work took places across 26 different natural areas, ranging from publicly owned urban forests to privately-held nature preserves. In the future, these restored areas will become part of thriving ecological communities that sequester carbon, provide wildlife habitat, mitigate erosion and flooding, stabilize microclimates, filter pollutants, and more!
One of the outreach materials I prepare for my service is a series of quotes taken from volunteers. These quotes highlight why those volunteers choose to volunteer, and the responses as whole illustrate an engaged community of volunteers seeking to make a difference. One volunteer said “it gives me hope that there are tangible things we can do!” This quote reflects one of my favorite aspects of doing service for Forterra; by taking action on behalf of the environment, we enter a cycle of action inspiring hope inspiring more action. While it certainly can take a lot of energy to coordinate volunteers, the energy already exists in that community, and we just need to tap into it.
These months of service have shown me that despite the daunting issues our society faces, we live among vibrant communities of people eager to connect with one another, and to tackle these larger issues. The volunteer community is making a real and lasting impact on our natural areas, showing that real change can happen when people come together to do work they care about. I’m looking forward to being a part of more community restoration, and can’t wait to see what these natural areas look like in the years to come.