All posts by Jona Elwell

Canopy Awards – Get Ready!

The Fourth Annual Canopy Awards is only 3 DAYS AWAY!

We’ve been toiling away planning and we can’t wait to show off! While we’ve hinted at a few things, the night will still be full of surprises. Heineken and Republic Restoratives are stocking the bar with delicious concoctions and Shake Shack will be rocking the grill and surprising us with a never-before-tested Shake.

But there is one thing still missing — you!

If you haven’t gotten your ticket yet, hop to it! Tickets are limited and prices increase at the door. Don’t be left out – Get your tickets today!


We Marched for Science – Now What?

Tens of thousands of people gathered in hundreds of rallies around the world on Earth Day in what was described as a celebration of science and support for evidence-based policies. The March for Science was not about scientists or politicians—it is about the very real role that science plays in all of our lives and the essential role it must play in shaping decisions and policies that affect us all. Feeling inspired by the march and want to continue the work that was highlighted this past weekend? Here are some actions you can take:

  1. Educate Yourself
    Arm yourself with knowledge and information about the causes you care about or want to support. Participate in a webinar about supporting science in your community, read up on resources about trees from the U.S. Forest Service, attend a talk about an environmental issue, or take your professional development to the next level through classes or certifications.  Arielle Conti, a recently certified ISA arborist, noted “As soon as I started at Casey Trees I’ve wanted my ISA certification. After a lot of work – including a three day intensive course – I’m proud that I passed. It feels empowering to know my practical knowledge is now credentialed in my field.” Remember, knowledge is power.
  1. Get Involved as a Citizen Scientist
    Taking tangible actions to help local scientific organizations is an easy and satisfying way to contribute. Citizen scientists are critical parts of collecting data! Helping us inventory trees is a great way to spend a morning outside while contributing to our wealth of tree knowledge. We have plenty of inventories all spring and summer – even one on Arbor Day! National Geographic has projects you can do on your own, as does DOEE. The Anacostia Watershed Society has events on Earth Day and Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens has a range of volunteer activities, including lily pond restoration! Participating directly is a great way to give back to your community and contribute to the importance and integrity of science and scientific data.
  1. Support Local Organizations
    Public support is vital to the programs and projects that make our city a better place to live, work and visit. Many scientific organizations rely heavily on grants and outside funding, so your donation is a way to make a lasting difference. We have a number of ways to contribute – Evergreen Membership, individual donations, and workplace giving.
  1. Tell Your Representatives Why Science Matters
    While Congress is back in session until May 29, regardless of whether or not you’re planning to attend a march, take a few steps to show your support for strong science in your community and around the world! Schedule a meeting with your member of congress or D.C. Councilmember to talk about science, and make sure your voice is heard. Not sure what to say? Start by developing your “ask”, an essential component of any meeting with your legislators. There are plenty of resources online that outline arguments for the importance of urban forestry. Become a Certified Tree Advocate to stand up for trees! Our Tree Advocates Program is designed to develop a network of trained volunteers ready to stand up for trees in their neighborhood and across the city. Offering expertise, resources and support, we help you effectively connect with city leaders and other residents to push for change in their communities. Lastly – tweet at your representative or Councilmember about why they should champion science and urban forestry. Tweeting is a great way to share your science message to broad audiences, specifically legislators who pay special attention to tweets from their constituents! Calling people out on social media typically gets a lot of attention.

No matter what you choose to do, just get involved and stay involved!

National Volunteer Week: It Takes a Village

We let you know it was coming, and now it’s finally here – National Volunteer Week! We’ll be highlighting the great work our volunteers do all week long on social media – including how many trees you’ve planted in 2016! – but we had to ask some of our rock star volunteers why they have committed so much to Casey Trees and our efforts to re-tree D.C.

So who exactly did we chat with? Alvin Figer has been a Team Leader at community tree plantings and is now a registration volunteer helping everyone get prepped. A longtime supporter of Casey Trees – she interned with us after moving to D.C. – Maki Tazawa has almost done it all. A recent addition to the Casey Trees family, Kristen Bonner dove right in and is now a Team Leader! And finally, we asked Brian Watts, a recent Citizen Forester turned Team Leader for his thoughts.

 Casey Trees: How did you get involved with Casey Tees?
Alvin Figer:
In 2014, I did my first tree planting at Wilson High School. I was looking online for volunteer opportunities that aligned with my passion to help the environment. I did a Google Search and came across Casey Trees. I emailed the contact online and got a response right away from Erica Young and that is how it all began.

Kristin Bonner: I receive volunteer emails at my job and Casey Trees was listed. I’ve always liked working outdoors so figured I would give tree planting a shot.

Maki Tazawa: Casey Trees was the first internship I ever had when I moved to D.C. for college in 2010 and joined as the Education Intern!

Brian Watts: I wrote a research paper on urban forestry in graduate school and once I moved to Washington, D.C., I knew I had to get involved!

CT:  Why do you think planting, advocating for, and caring for trees in D.C. is so important?
Trees are essential in our environment and we need to share the land with these magnificent entities. They need us to advocate for more shared spaces because otherwise they would be forgotten.

KB: Without trees we wouldn’t be able to sustain life, and they are so important for the health of our city and our climate. I think it’s important to give back in any way that we can, and to adopt and support sustainable habits so we can leave the Earth a little better than we found it.

MT: D.C. is a beautiful city that has the opportunity to improve upon its history, communities and natural areas by planting more trees and reaching the canopy goal and beyond. With all of the benefits that trees have for both people and the local environment, and the socioeconomic advantages this provides to communities and the city at-large makes planting trees one of the cheapest ways to improve our city.

BW: Generally speaking, trees are amazing and the benefits they give are quite often overlooked. In the city, planting, advocating, and caring for trees gives us another way to connect to nature and helps to express the importance of nature to our friends, family, and strangers alike.

CT: What is the best part of planting a tree?
AF: Having a 3 year old at home, I love being able to tell him that I planted a tree when he was born to symbolize how much I love him and trees. He can see how much the trees I have planted grew as he grows into a young man.

KB: Digging the hole is always a fun chore, but my favorite is when the tree is in the ground and the group is able to take a step back and admire the hard work they just accomplished.

MT: I’m not going to lie and say the pizza for lunch isn’t a huge part of my personal joy in the community tree plantings, but the best part of planting a tree in general is that there isn’t just one impact that tree will have. You know that day after day that tree is going to bring someone joy from its beauty, cool them off with its shade, will help with stormwater runoff in the city, support the habitat for cute little critters, or myriad other benefits it will provide for people and the environment alike.

BW: Coffee! But seriously, meeting new people who enjoy volunteering. It’s also so much fun to meet people who have never planted a tree and see how rewarding it is to do so!

MT: You can volunteer in whatever way and however much you want: you can volunteer once a year with your friends at a community tree planting, you can take a Trees 101 class alone for your own knowledge expansion with no pressure, you can sign up to be an outreach volunteer for a whole season and not have to pick up a single shovel. Casey Trees doesn’t ask for any time commitments like some other volunteer organizations and most of the events don’t need any prior training.

CT:  What would you tell someone who is on the fence about volunteering with Casey Trees? Any advice?
I would tell them you do not need to have any experience at all with planting or if you think you do not have a “green thumb.”  With the assistance of great volunteer team leaders and with the experience Casey tree facilitators have, you do not need to worry.  I would also mention the great food and it is a great opportunity to work together with any club, church, school, etc.

KB: Go do it! Its great exercise and for a great cause! Volunteering with CT will also teach you how a tree is supposed to be properly planted and there’s something new to learn at every planting.

BW: Hop that fence! There are plenty of Saturdays to come, take the time to give back and you won’t regret it. It’s wonderful to get out early, do something for the greater good, and then enjoy the rest of your Saturday.

CT: What compels you to volunteer season after season?
AF: Knowing that I am helping the environment and that my family has something to inherit and enjoy in the future.

KB: It’s just fun and a great way to meet new people. I also love going to the different parts of D.C. where the tree plantings occur, which connects me more with the city.

MT: This is an important mission that is critical to bettering sustainability and community issues in the district, and it is a lovely and fun community to be a part of. Personally, it’s a simple and fun way to contribute to something I connect with (community tree plantings being my favorite way to spend a Saturday) and it brings a great deal of joy to me to walk around the city, see Casey Trees water bags on trees and know that I’m part of this effort.

BW: The growing need for afforestation in urban areas and the community building that planting trees fosters.

CT:  Last but not least, do you have a favorite tree?
AF: All native trees are my favorite!

KB: I don’t see them too much (or ever here), but in Florida we have live oak trees that are absolutely stunning. They add a certain aged/majestic characteristic wherever I have seen them. By far my favorite tree.

MT: Eastern Redbud if I have to pick just one local one!

BW: The Sycamore – Platanus occidentalis.

We’re a lucky organization to work with talented and all around awesome volunteers. Check out our volunteer opportunities to get involved and stay tuned for the rest of our National Volunteer Week coverage!

Whoa, We’re Halfway There – Spring Planting Season Update

It feels like Opening Day was yesterday, but believe it or not, we’re just about halfway through our spring planting season! Let’s take stock of all the work we’ve accomplished this somewhat bizarre spring.

More than 528 adult volunteers have already helped us plant 444 trees in eight locations and eight schools across the District through our Tree Planting programs. Check out our Flickr account for photos from this season’s plantings.

There is no rest for the weary though as we still have eight more planting sites across D.C. to go! We’re ending the season with a bang: two planting the same day! We’ll be planting at Francis Field and Dog Park in Northwest D.C. and Common Greens/Amidon Field in Southwest D.C. on May 13.

Bummed that these are full? Check out our classes and inventories throughout the summer!

Remembering Walker Williams

It is with a heavy heart that we share the news that Walker Williams passed away on Friday, April 7. One of Casey Trees’ longest-serving and dedicated Board Members (2004 – 2016), Walker was a friend, mentor, and supporter to the entire Casey Trees family. Mark Buscaino, Casey Trees’ Executive Director noted: “Walker has been there throughout my 10 years at Casey Trees. He always had a kind word of support, and his advice and wisdom continues to guide me through challenging times. I will miss him.”

Williams was around for many Casey Trees accomplishments — the creation of the Community Tree Planting and High School Summer Crew programs, the first nursery planting at Casey Tree Farm in Berryville, V.A., and the construction of Casey Trees’ Brookland offices — but his commitment shone through the way he talked about the work Casey Trees does with young people.

Walker garnered an appreciation for trees while in elementary school in his hometown of East Orange, N.J., where his class participated in a commemorative tree planting ceremony. He often shared that every time he returned to East Orange he drove by the tree he helped plant as a child, and that it still stood in the schoolyard, a reminder of how trees are gifts that last for generations.

If you wish to extend your condolences to his wife and children, or would like to share your own personal story about Walker, please do so here.