Why I Love Being a Community Forester
For decades, I have been thinking—and worrying—globally about environmental issues; but now I have found a meaningful and satisfying way to act locally. This year, I became one of The Park People’s Community Foresters.
When I volunteer, nothing matters more—and nothing is more rewarding and satisfying-- than being able to join others in making a demonstrable difference. But having fun, making new friends, and learning new things are all right up there as well. Serving as a Community Forester amply satisfies all of these priorities.
Aspiring Community Foresters first take a five-part course that begins with an introduction to Denver’s urban forest, the many and diverse benefits trees provide, and the considerable impact of planting more trees, especially in low tree canopy, low-income neighborhoods. Then, they cover the tree basics, including planting, pruning, and identification through classes and hands-on field work taught by The Park People’s knowledgeable staff and Denver Parks and Recreation’s foresters. To increase the new Community Foresters’ impact, the course concludes with a session on leading volunteers, managing projects, and engaging communities. As a bonus, during the course, you make new friends who will work with you on future volunteer projects.
Upon graduation, the newly minted Community Foresters can plunge into The Park People’s work. Because The Park People’s business model depends upon enthusiastic volunteers, Community Foresters get to do the fun stuff. Through Denver Digs Trees, The Park People provide residents with free and low-cost trees for planting in both the public right of ways bordering their property and their yards. Community Foresters support this program by canvassing low tree canopy neighborhoods to encourage homeowners to participate and then by distributing and planting trees. A few months later, they visit the trees in their new homes to see how they are doing.
The Mile High Tree Champions program enables companies to offer their employees a group volunteer opportunity planting trees in parks and neighborhoods. Community Foresters join in by leading the volunteer tree planting crews. Helping people you have just met enjoy planting a tree for the first time is a special pleasure.
For me, it all adds up to an enjoyable and rewarding volunteer experience, and it could do the same for others! Interested? Sign up here to be notified when registration for the 2023 Community Forester Program opens.
David R. Hammond
Community Forester, Class of 2022