Blog Post By Sam Nelson, SCA Crew Chief

Our Partnership with the SCA (Student Conservation Association)

This summer we’re pumped to partner up with the Student Conservation Association (SCA) for the first time in a seasonal program to help plant and maintain young trees.

The SCA Crew in all its glory. From left to right: Emmanuel, Essence, Brien, Rosemary. Upper row: Collin, Sam

SCA’s crew consists of five members and a crew leader. The members, Rosemary Iwuala, Essence Fullwood, Brien Douglas, Emmanuel, and Collin Hamilton, have all served on several SCA crews and environmental service projects/programs ranging from the Pecos Wilderness in New Mexico to Shenandoah National Park to Rock Creek Park. These projects have included trail work, invasive species removal, bike safety programs, and other services. Multiple members are currently majoring in environmental or science fields in college.

Their work with the Tree Planting team began in early June during the extended planting season. Since then they have helped plant 243 trees and provided water, care, and maintenance to more than 2,000 trees and counting through this hot summer season.  

“They have been essential for us finishing the planting season,” said Brendan Durkin, Arborist at Casey Trees.

The SCA was founded over 60 years ago by Liz Putnam to provide necessary conservation and labor in National Parks at a time of debated land access and sustainability. SCA’s long-time mission has also been to inspire and encourage enduring stewardship of the environment by students and citizens. Historically, it has focused on trail work in federal lands and parks. In recent years it has expanded programs and partnerships to better serve urban environments and communities. Its mission fits aptly with Casey Trees’ mission to improve and protect our capital’s tree canopy.

“SCA has provided Casey Trees with an extended foundation that has increased our capacity greatly,” said Robert Shaut, Director of Tree Planting. “Their efforts to plant trees and maintain our existing trees has created an environment that allowed Casey Trees to increase our late spring and summer productivity immensely.”

The partnership has often led to an exchange of skills and knowledge between staff and crew members. SCA members bring a lot of experience in conservation work but have been learning from staff members as well as the Education Department about tree identification, ecology, and care.

“People in both organizations are enthusiastic about what they do,” said Collin, an SCA member and senior at Virginia Tech University. “Not only does everyone share their passion in what they do, but they share knowledge about trees and fieldwork and that helps build the conservation community.”

“Our staff has been showing SCA some important things and skills, and SCA has been really positive on our staff and productivity,” Brendan said.

Members of this SCA crew have served in many previous projects, but each member reports that this crew has been special to them because of the physicality, nature, and rewards of the work.

“I appreciate the beauty of trees more now,” said Essence, a junior at Penn State University. “At first I just thought—oh trees, they give shade—but now I appreciate them more, like the sycamores in my front yard… I like the fact that we care for these trees. I feel like we’re making a difference.”

“I like seeing the before and after,” Collin said. “We arrive at a field and we’re planting a forest.”

For more information about the Student Conservation Association or to get involved as a volunteer or leader, please visit

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