Sharing a love of trees during the pandemic
Late spring in Oregon with its long hours of daylight and warmer weather is a great time of the year to share your love of trees with your community. Although the people who care for urban trees are busy watering, pruning, and performing other day-to-day maintenance tasks, with trees leafed out and some still in flower, the weeks before summer are great times of the year even during our pandemic to celebrate and educate others about the many benefits trees provide.
Adding a few fun education and outreach activities into your summer work plan helps raise awareness of trees and your program at a time when a lot of residents have more time on their hands because of COVID-19. You can reach an even larger audience by joining forces with other programs and non-profits in your area.
Here are some good examples that residents of your community can engage in from home or alone at a safe physical distance from others:
1. Tree tours – Self-guided or online
- Solicit suggestions from community members to locate favorite trees in your town, then:
- Create an online tour to showcase trees by taking photos and posting descriptions.
- Create and print a brochure with a map for a self-guided city tree tour. Partner with a food delivery service to include one with deliveries in neighborhoods near the tour route.
2. Tree stories
- Collect stories about historic or prominent community trees and partner with the local newspaper to publish a “tree of the month" article.
- Research the history of a prominent local tree and consider nominating them as a heritage tree for your city or even with the state-level
Heritage Tree program.
3. Team up with your community's parks or recreation department
- Offer an online tree identification webinar.
- Host a Zoom meeting about tree art – discuss how people can go find twigs, leaves, and branches in their yards or nearby (without damaging trees) and create interesting collages or other artwork.
(Hint: Check out ideas on
ODF's Instagram page which is running ideas for tree-related activities for kids every Friday through August.)
4. Partner with local or regional arborists
- Hold online workshops explaining tree care or maintenance, proper pruning or tree watering, etc.
- Hold a photo contest that highlights park trees in your community. The contest winner might receive a tree, planted on their behalf in their favorite park next spring. (Hint: Tree City USA Arbor Day grants can pay for trees planted for Arbor Day events.)
- Work with a local bookstore to hold a “poe-tree" contest; display selected poems in large type in the store window or in City Hall. (Hint: Haiku poems are short and easy to fit on a single sheet.)
This short list may help stir up some ideas about how you can involve your community in the joy and benefits provided by trees, while raising the visibility of your city's urban forestry program and the importance of caring for the community forest.
Arbor Day Foundation waives Arbor Day celebration requirement
Because of concerns about public gatherings this spring, The Arbor Day Foundation is not requiring Tree City USA communities or Tree Campus USA schools to celebrate Arbor Day in 2020 (Standard 4) as a condition of their annual recertification applications in December 2020. When the threat from the coronavirus abates, communities who wish may proclaim Arbor Day at a time when it is safe to do so. They can then submit the usual information (photos, clips, posts, etc.) as a completion of Standard 4, but it is not required.
About urban forests
Urban forests are the trees in the cities and neighborhoods where we live. The urban forest includes trees along streets, in parks and natural areas, and in your own backyard. Urban forests provide many important environmental, social, and economic benefits and services too.
Urban forestry is the care and management of these trees in cities. Many cities have an urban forestry or other tree care program that manages trees along city streets and in parks.
ODF's Urban and Community Forestry Program provides assistance to communities committed to their urban trees, or looking to improve and expand their urban forestry programs. Contact an Urban and Community Assistance Forester to learn how your city can become more involved in urban forestry activities.
Arbor Day is America's National Tree Holiday. It’s the day set aside to plant ceremonial trees, educate children about the importance of trees and honor the important role trees play in our daily lives. National Arbor Day is always celebrated on the last Friday in April, but many states observe Arbor Day on different dates throughout the year based on best tree-planting times in their area.
In Oregon, we traditionally set aside the first full calendar week in April to honor trees.
For more information on Arbor Day or to plan a celebration, visit the Arbor Day Foundation or contact your local Urban and Community Assistance Forester.
A Tree Board, sometimes called “Tree Advisory Committee” or “Tree Commission,” is a group of citizen volunteers charged by ordinance with developing, guiding, or administering a community tree management program. A Tree Board advises and assists city professionals by:
- Raising public awareness and public education about the value of trees
- Serving as a technical advisor on tree related issue
- Helping work on city tree care codes or a management plan
- Advocating for trees
- Promote Heritage Tree programs
- Organizing tree planning projects and Arbor Day ceremonies
Cities with Tree City USA status already have a Tree Board of some sort.
If your city is not already a Tree City USA, consider starting a Tree Board in your town by contacting your mayor or city manager. Also consider attending "Tree Board University," a free, online series of courses to help you learn more about serving in a citizen advisory role in your city.
The Tree City USA program is a national program that provides the framework for community forestry management for cities and towns across America.
Communities achieve Tree City USA status by meeting four core standards of sound urban forestry management:
- Maintaining a tree board or department
- Having a community tree ordinance
- Spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry
- Celebrating Arbor Day
Participating communities have demonstrated a commitment to caring for and managing their public trees. In Oregon, nearly 60 communities participate in the Tree City USA program.
List of Tree City USA communities in Oregon
If your community is interested in becoming a Tree City USA, please contact an Urban and Community Assistance Forester or visit the Arbor Day Foundation website.
Tree Campus USA
The Arbor Day Foundation also recognizes college and university campuses committed to their green space through the Tree Campus USA program. Tree Campus USA schools:
- Effectively manage their campus trees
- Develop a connection with their community beyond campus borders to foster healthy, urban forests
- Strive to engage their student population with campus and community forestry efforts
Learn more about becoming a Tree Campus USA from the Arbor Day Foundation.