Celebrating summer successes—Cheers to you!

By Canopy Team on September 4, 2017

Young volunteers at the Stevens Creek Trail tree planting celebrate their handiwork.

From the desk of Executive Director Catherine Martineau

Catherine Martineau

Wow, that was fast! Just like that, the summer’s almost over, vacations are wrapping up, and kids are back in school. Here at Canopy, we’re gearing up for another big planting season, including our annual planting leader training and our first ever “Oak-tober” (stay tuned for details). I hope you’ll join us!

Before we say goodbye to summer, however, I want to take a moment this Labor Day to pause and celebrate a few of the successes that you—our dedicated community of volunteers, supporters, partners, and tree lovers—made possible over the last few months.

Here’s to summer—and to all of you!

Six summer highlights to celebrate as we dive into fall:

1. Volunteers brought new trees to the trail during milestone Mountain View tree planting

Our 2016-2017 planting season ended with a bang on June 17th, when Canopy teamed up with City of Mountain View, Mountain View Trees, Friends of Stevens Creek Trail, and over 175 volunteers to plant 85 new trees along a stretch of Stevens Creek trail.

Tree planting duo at Stevens Creek Trail with their newly planted Buckeye.

Even though it was a hot day, our hard-working partners and volunteer crews had the trees planted in no time—and made the day a ton of fun!

Canopy’s Program Director Michael Hawkins was thrilled about the collaboration. “Canopy, Mountain View Trees, and Friends of Stevens Creek Trail all play a key role in sustaining urban nature on the Mid-Peninsula, but this was the first time we had a chance to join forces. For Canopy, it was also our first major collaboration with the City of Mountain View. We can’t wait for more joint efforts like this one.”

2. Students focused on learning and wellbeing during “Nature Wellness Walks”

This past summer, over 500 Palo Alto high school students participated in Canopy-led “nature wellness walks” as part of their Living Skills course.

During half-hour walks around the school campus and adjacent neighborhood, students explored local tree species, learned about tree benefits, and talked about the important connection between nature and wellness.

Sweet thank you from a Living Skills student: “Dear Elise, Thank you for teaching us about some different types of trees. I have grown up in Palo Alto, and have been around these trees for about 17 years and I never bothered to find out the names and stories behind them. You got me more interested in paying more attention to my surroundings and to be more curious about things. Thanks, Laura S.”

“It was wonderful to see the students engaged and relaxed outside,” Canopy’s Education Leader, Natalie Brubaker, reported afterwards. “Not only did the students ask great questions about the trees, we also talked about how something as simple as a fifteen minute walk in a park or other green area can have big benefits for relieving stress and refreshing your brain.

Canopy staff had a great time connecting with students, and, following teacher requests, we  plan to continue the program during the school year. As a wonderful bonus, the students sent us some very sweet thank you’s!

3. Tree survey stars helped complete the Palo Alto Young Tree Care Survey in record time

Thanks to the hard work of survey volunteers, our Young Tree Care Survey intern, and our own inimitable Elise Willis, the Palo Alto Young Tree Care Survey—which tracks the health of young tree throughout Palo Alto—was completed in record time this year.

Volunteers learn how to survey trees in Hoover Park.

In total, 55 volunteers put in 508 hours to survey over 1,170 young trees. Most volunteers (45 out of 55) were high school students, many from Palo Alto and some from East Palo Alto and Mountain View. Two stand-out tree survey champions, Mark Chan and Frank Li from Palo Alto, checked out 10 separate routes and surveyed a grant total of 204 trees. 

“Having so many students involved was my favorite thing about the survey this year,” Community Forestry Program Manager Elise Willis said. “We had more trees to survey than ever before, and we needed all hands on deck to navigate routes, gather data, and check up on trees. These high school students worked really hard to help make that happen!”

Stay tuned this fall for full tree survey results.

4. Summer Interns and Teen Urban Foresters kept young trees thriving (and more)

Our summer team of interns are definitely worth celebrating! This energetic bunch pruned and tended young school trees, checked up on newly planted neighborhood trees, led Canopy volunteers, helped with the Young Tree Care Survey, visited a local tree care company, and more.

TUFs Kelly Cortes and Luz Abarca work alongside volunteer Jonathan Gifford to prune young school trees.

As their final project for the summer, our Teen Urban Foresters even conducted a pilot community survey to find out how East Palo Alto residents feel about trees in their community. Read more from TUF Harold Kirkendoll here.

5. Growing the Canopy campaign donors are fueling programs in new communities

Thanks to more than 160 generous donors, we crossed the finish line this summer on our multi-year Growing the Canopy campaign. Funds from the campaign will continue to fuel more tree planting, tree care, and youth engagement in new schools and neighborhoods over the next three years. We couldn’t be more grateful to everyone who supported this important initiative!

The Growing the Canopy campaign will bring more trees and nature to local schools, parks, and neighborhoods.

6. New strategic plan sets the stage for a strong (and green!) future

Lastly, this summer Canopy staff and board wrapped up 6 months of work on a new 5-year strategic plan to ensure we’re effectively furthering our mission.

After several years of exciting growth for Canopy, we’re eager to focus the next two years on strengthening and evaluating existing programs, deepening recent partnerships, and strengthening our advocacy muscles. These key investments will set the stage for serving new communities in the following years, as we work towards a regional vision for a greener Mid-Peninsula. Stay tuned for updates, and let us know if you’d like to get involved!

Thank you for making it all possible!

In short, this summer was full of growth, greening, engagement, and—of course—more trees. A heartfelt “thank you” to everyone who dug in with us to make it all possible, even during the sunny dog days of summer.

As you know, a thriving urban forest doesn’t happen by chance. It requires community members who value trees and their many benefits, and community leaders who understand that investing in trees means investing in public health and quality of life. It requires ongoing engagement, advocacy, stewardship, and renewal from local governments, residents, business, and nonprofits.

Thanks to all of you—our volunteers, donors, partners, and friends—we continue to protect and grow a vibrant urban forest for future generations, and work towards our vision: a day when every resident of the Mid-Peninsula can walk, play, and thrive under the shade of healthy trees.

Now let’s roll up our sleeves and get ready for fall!



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