By Eric Perez on July 16, 2018
Working with Canopy has changed the way I see myself in relation to the community around me, as well as my role in the community and my obligation to it. When I started working with Canopy in my freshmen year of highschool, I was initially interested in the work because of the trees—I was interested in combating climate change—but, as I got to do more of the work, my focus definitely shifted from the trees themselves to the impact they have on the community.
My focus now isn’t just on getting trees planted; it’s to help the community grow closer during the plantings and see bonds form that weren’t previously there. By working with Canopy, I’ve been able to get to know and understand my obligation to my community and all of the reasons why the work we do at Canopy is so necessary.
Considering East Palo Alto is split in half by Highway 101, it is absolutely necessary for our community to have more trees than it does, since smog and pollution pools above the city, with very few trees to absorb the pollutants. In addition, being able to spend time outside for a few hours a week helped me de-stress at times when I most needed to get away from the frustrations of high school.
Working with Canopy has also helped me improve my leadership abilities and my people skills. When I started working with Canopy, I was very shy and often had trouble talking to volunteers. As I continued working on improving my communication skills, however, I was able to become more outgoing and confident talking to people, even those I might never have met before—especially since, as a Canopy Teen Urban Forester, I’ve been able to work at these skills every single week for three years!
I really feel as though every high schooler could benefit from working with Canopy, because of all of the skills you pick up from doing the work, and because of the sense of community one gets from working with the staff and volunteers.
Eric Perez is a senior at Eastside College Preparatory School where is he also a member of the debate team. He is interested in climate change and the arts, and likes to spend time reading articles, going to the movies, and crocheting. He joined Canopy’s Teen Urban Foresters in the fall of 2015.
This year, his goals are to improve his leadership skills and bring his community closer together. His favorite trees are avocados and redwoods because they represent his culture as a Mexican-American.