Growing Together: Reflecting on My First Six Months at Canopy

By Jean-Paul "JP" Renaud on March 7, 2024

Jean-Paul “JP” Renaud with Brother Clyde E. Virges and East Palo Alto Mayor Antonio Lopez (pictured left to right) at the 2024 MLK Day of Service volunteer event.

As I reflect on my first six months as the new Executive Director of Canopy, I am filled with a sense of excitement and purpose. Canopy’s mission to foster urban forestry and community engagement resonates deeply with me, and I am thrilled to be leading efforts to ensure that the communities of Palo Alto, Mountain View, East Palo Alto, North Fair Oaks, and the Belle Haven neighborhoods of Menlo Park thrive under the shade of healthy trees.

Six months ago, I joined a team committed to transforming this region’s canopy and addressing the green inequities that have historically kept many in our communities from enjoying the benefits of trees. I have found a home among a dedicated group of professionals and volunteers who find this work not only meaningful, but also personal. 

JP (right) at a volunteer tree event at Hoover Community School in North Fair Oaks, December 2023.

I grew up in a Cuban household where English was not our primary language; in a mobile home park where the lack of trees and green spaces affected our physical and mental wellbeing; where healthy and affordable food was unnecessarily difficult to find; where education and career training were essential to accessing economic prosperity. 

And like everyone at Canopy, I find joy in working alongside new neighbors and friends so that everyone in the midpeninsula can benefit from healthy trees and green schoolyards, have access to robust environmental education programs, and a chance at benefitting from the green economy of the future. That’s why Canopy’s three core components resonate with me personally, and why I believe our future is strong as we set out to grow, deepen and expand our impact. 

Planting our Future 

One of our primary objectives at Canopy is to plant the seeds of change by increasing tree canopy coverage in our communities. We work every day to engage residents and volunteers in tree planting initiatives, enhancing the health and sustainability of our neighborhoods. From planting saplings in local parks to organizing tree planting events in residential areas, we are making tangible strides towards our goal of creating greener, healthier communities for all.

Powering Through Education and Advocacy 

Education is key to fostering a deeper understanding of the importance of urban forestry and environmental stewardship. That’s why we’re dedicated to expanding our educational programs in more schools and to accommodate more people. Through workshops, seminars, and school outreach programs, we are powering community members of all ages to become advocates for trees and green neighborhoods. By providing people with the knowledge and skills they need to make informed decisions about their local environment, we are laying the groundwork for a sustainable future.

Building a Green Workforce

Canopy is committed to building a workforce that is not only prepared to fuel but also benefit from the green economy of tomorrow. Through our Teen Urban Foresters program, we provide high school students from our Branching Out Communities career training initiatives aimed at providing job opportunities in the field of urban forestry and environmental conservation. From arborist training programs to green infrastructure development projects, we are creating pathways to meaningful employment that also contribute to the health and vitality of our communities.

How You Can Help

As we continue our journey to create a movement for trees and green neighborhoods, we invite you to join us in making a difference. Help us plant and care for trees, sign up to a tree walk, volunteer at one of our tabling events, and be a voice for trees and green spaces in your community. 

As I look ahead to the future of Canopy, I am filled with hope and optimism. Together, we have the power to create positive change and build a more sustainable, resilient future for generations to come. Thank you for your continued support as we work towards our vision of thriving communities under the shade of healthy trees.

I look forward to seeing you at our next community event!

Jean-Paul Renaud

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