My name is Ash, and I serve as the Neighborhood Trees Coordinator for the City of Vancouver’s Urban Forestry department. Vancouver has only 18% tree canopy in our city, well below the recommended 40% for a city in Washington. Vancouver Urban Forestry works to increase our urban forest canopy coverage by planting and caring for trees, running volunteer events, and educating the public.
We recently had a huge event that covered all of these three main focuses: The Martin Luther King, Jr Day of Service. My department partnered with Parks & Recreation Volunteer Program to run a huge volunteer event at a local park. We planted 23 trees, mulched these and other trees, picked up trash, planted spirea shrubs, weeded, and pulled invasive ivy. We had over 70 volunteers, including student groups, families, and active community members. We had been planning this event for several months, and it was really wonderful to see all our hard work come together in an educational and active event.
What was really inspirational to me, however, was that the team from the city for this event was all women. Often outdoor programs have more men in charge, but on this day all the leaders were female, and this set an amazing example for all of our volunteers, especially the young girls who were out with their families. We were doing physical labor, sharing information, and helping improve our community as a team of strong women. We even had comments that this was something our volunteers were really happy to see. This event made me really grateful for the wonderful team I work with, and was empowering to me, my coworkers, and our volunteers.