Blog Post By Jona Elwell

Meet the Tree Planting Team

As you may have heard, this season is our biggest (and hopefully best!) yet. While countless volunteers come together for each and every event there is another group of folks you’ll see – and they often have bright yellow shirts on. Without further ado, meet our Tree Planting Team!


Robert Shaut, Director
Tree Planting’s fearless leader, Rob became fascinated with trees at a young age. From Rob, “I spent my summers at Valley Mill Camp, an outdoor camp, located in the Poolesville woodlands where I would climb trees and build shelters from fallen limbs. In my professional experience, trees have always played a pivotal role in design and implementation as they are the foundation, and often the focal point, on which gardens are built.” Words to work by.

While Nate typically interacts with property owners and not volunteers, he’s usually got a smile on.

Nate Kelly, Urban Forester
When asked why he chose urban forestry, arborist Nate elaborated, “It’s a great way to learn a city through an environmentally minded goal.” And learn the city he does! Nate traverses the city working with homeowners to plant trees for little or no cost through our awesome residential planting programs.


Paul (middle) is happy to chat with volunteers and educate them about the types of trees they plant. The more you know, right?

Paul Coraggio, Urban Forester
Originally from New Jersey, Paul set off to attend graduate school across the pond in Germany. He’s back on American soil and ready to tackle re-treeing D.C. What is Paul looking forward to most this season? “Working with our stakeholders across the city to increase our canopy. It’s so great to partner with the National Parks Service and the Department of Parks and Recreation and so many local universities and organizations to enhance their sites.” Considering Paul works with our many community partners to plan, execute, and oversee our Community Tree Plantings, this is a great goal!


Maddy’s pretty much seen it all – including flurries at a planting in March!

Maddy McPhee, Urban Forester
Everyone’s favorite adult education coordinator has moved over to the tree planting team. As the newest Urban Forester, Maddy will be taking her scientific background in arboriculture to the tree planting team and is “looking forward to working with volunteers in a new capacity.” Maddy’s an example of the many ways you can restore, enhance, and protect our tree canopy.


A former Crew Chief, Brendan is now working as an Urban Forester. No matter what he does, he’s always here to help his hometown of Washington, D.C.

Brendan Durkin, Urban Forester
Rounding out our quartet of Urban Foresters is Brendan Durkin. While you may recognize Brendan from the Tree Planting Crew, he’s now lending his talents to re-treeing D.C. and embracing life as a full time arborist. For our biggest season yet he’s, “excited to see so many new people volunteering”. We agree! Have you signed up for a fall event with us?

Allan is ready, willing and able to lend a hand when it comes to the correct installation of Arbor Tie.

Allan Rey, Urban Forestry Manager
Allan, our Urban Forestry Manager, ensures that the Tree Planting Crew is the best it can be and he has an ambitious goal for the 2018 fall season. “I want to get every tree in the ground. It would be so satisfying to end the season with an empty tree yard.” How does he escape hectic urban life and the stresses of our largest planting season yet? “I like Rock Creek Park. It feels like a whole other world away from the city.” Ain’t that the truth?


Miguel (first row left) is always up for re-treeing D.C. Good thing he helps oversee the folks that do just that!

Miguel Mattox, Crew Chief
As one of our Crew Chief, Miguel oversees our Tree Planting and its daily activities – whether that’s planting, watering, or caring for trees, assisting at residential, School, or Community Tree Plantings. Miguel is committed to the job; when we asked what color he would be in a crayon box he quickly replied, “Green.” Move over Kermit.


Ruben, back row, is a true team player. Camaraderie is what he found as a part of the Casey Trees crew.

Ruben Pansegrouw, Crew Chief
Ruben, an additional Crew Chief, appreciates effective workers. When asked what his favorite tree is he responded, “London Planetrees. They grow fast, they grow tall, and they grow everywhere.” True workhorses, it’s no wonder they’re the centerpiece of many cities!


Donnell looks great in all Casey Trees gear, not just the quintessential fluorescent yellow crew shirts.

Donnell Proctor, Tree Planting Crew Member
A veteran of the Tree Planting Crew, what Donnell is excited about probably resonates with a lot of Washingtonians: “I’m excited for fall weather so we can stay cool while planting lots of trees this fall.” After weeks of rain, it seems likes hot and wet are the two newest seasons in D.C. Let’s hope fall’s eternal.


As a member of the tree planting crew Savon (right) also gets to care for D.C.’s trees – that means pruning!

Savon Jackson, Tree Planting Crew Member
Another crew member who has planted with us before is Savon. “You’re always learning something new,” he told us. From the differences in soil to elevation changes to site-specific quirks, no planting is the same!


Back for more, Alex joins our crew for another season. We’re lucky to have him.

Alex Palacios, Tree Planting Crew Member
While this season is not Alex’s first on our crew, he’s still surprised. “We plant really big trees. I mean really big. And sometimes they’re multi-stem! It’s really cool to see our volunteers tackle a massive tree at plantings.” Come to an event and hey, you might come away with stories to impress your friends.

A native Washingtonian, Marshall is only this serious when it comes to proper tree care.

Marshall Patterson, Tree Planting Crew Member
Some may go for understated charm, but not crew member Marshall. “The River Birch is my favorite tree. They have sexy bark – it’s intriguing and interesting.” Prince Maximilian, the emperor of Mexico agreed. When touring North America he referred to the river birch as “the most beautiful of American trees”.


Christian Arriaza, Tree Planting Crew Member
You could say working on the Casey Trees’ crew cured Christian of “tree blindness”. “I always thought a tree was a tree. By there are so many distinctions and species! It’s been cool to find out more about trees – which season they work best in, which soils they prefer, whether they like sun or shade. There are so many options.” Trees: once you start noticing them there’s no going back. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

He might be new to the tree planting crew, but Dan isn’t new to Casey Trees.

Dan Quattrone, Tree Planting Crew Member
A transplant from our Survival Study, Dan is excited to be on the crew. What has he learned so far? “I find myself overthinking things. Planting a tree is simple. Yes, there are a few key things to remember, but overall the most important thing is that the tree is planted.” Don’t overthink things – sign up for a volunteer event with us now!

While these folks work hard on behalf of our cities trees, we still count on volunteer support! Join us outside this season – we have events practically every weekend until December. Check em all out at


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