August 5, 2019 /
Jona Elwell

Thanks for the memories (and breakfast sandwiches) Megan!

We’re lucky to partner with an organization that not only supports our mission, but is willing to literally help us achieve it. One of our near and dear partners Shake Shack, provides delicious sandwiches at our Community Tree Plantings throughout the year and even donates a portion of sales from various concretes at their locations directly to our work. Even sweeter? 

Megan smiles through Advocacy in the District training (and life!).

One of their magical employees, Megan (second from left in top photo), went above and beyond, taking the plunge to join the Casey Trees family as a Certified Tree Advocate, steadfast volunteer at plantings, or feeding the hungry masses at the Canopy Awards. Megan described her time with us best, “Whether it’s planting in the rain, on a hill, partying at the Canopy Awards, taking a tree ID class or relaxing out at the farm, it’s been incredibly fun, educational, and meaningful.” We know she’ll kick butt in New York as Shake Shack’s new Learning & Development Admin but we will definitely miss her around the District! To commemorate her time, we asked her a few questions:

Casey Trees (CT): Shake Shack as an organization does so much for us, but you as an individual have also contributed a lot  – attending over 20 plantings, events or classes! What’s your reaction to seeing that total?
Megan Purtell (MP): It just brings a big smile to my face.  I’m proud of being a part of Casey Trees and contributing to the mission.

CT: What made you keep returning to Casey Trees events on your own?
MP: I found that I really enjoyed it.  When I first came, it was because I am passionate about giving back through my work, but I was mostly focused on just cooking and donating the breakfast. After I planted a tree for the first time, I felt great – I had spent time with awesome people, made a difference in my community and environment, and laughed and learned a ton. Who wouldn’t want to come back?

CT: What has surprised you most working with Casey Trees? 
MP: How passionate all of the staff and volunteers are. It’s legitimately hard sometimes to volunteer with Casey Trees, because all the spots are filled so quickly. [Editor’s note: we have one way to get advanced access!] You don’t see that with every organization, but there is such an active, dedicated community in Casey Trees that I am very happy to have been a part of.

She was always on hand to help out – planting, advocating, or feeding the Casey Trees volunteers. (She’s back right above)

CT: Where (or what) will you be moving on to? 
MP: I am leaving the D.C. area to move up to NYC. I’ll be staying with Shake Shack, but am taking on a new job in our Home Office, working in our training department as the Learning & Development Admin.

CT: What has been your biggest, best, or favorite achievement during your time with Casey Trees?  
MP: Biggest achievement is just the sheer number of things I’ve done with Casey Trees. I didn’t keep track, but I have to imagine I’ve helped cook and deliver over 2,500 breakfast sandwiches. I’ve planted 57 trees along with that, and had 13 different team leaders. I’ve brought out handfuls of my co-workers to Casey Trees plantings, the Farm, and the Canopy Awards. 

CT: Do you have a particularly memorable/funny/zany story from your time working with us? 
MP: The craziest planting I have been a part of was at Francis Field and Dog Park in spring of 2017.  Not only because Mayor Bowser was there, but because it had rained a lot before the planting, and the area where my team was set to plant was a literal pond. We tried to dig and there was just water everywhere – we laughed so hard because it was ridiculous. The hole we were digging was just filling with water.  We ended up moving over to another area and planting, but it was a crazy morning. It was the last planting of the season and I celebrated by throwing away my soaking wet shoes that day. Also, the first planting I delivered to was during the Rock & Roll Marathon in 2016 – It took us over an hour to get out to the planting because all the streets were closed!

CT: What is one thing you wish/want to say to all the volunteers you’ve fed/ stood alongside?  
MP: Just a big THANK YOU. I’ve had so much fun feeding you, getting to know you, and planting alongside you. Please continue the mission of Casey Trees without me, take care of my trees (I WILL come back to check on them), and have fun. Also, NEVER be ashamed to go back for a second breakfast sandwich.  ?

CT: Last but not least, favorite tree?  
MP: The Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) – it’s the state tree of New York (where I grew up and am headed back to!) and we had plenty around when I was a kid. You can’t beat their colors in the fall.