Volunteer Spotlight: Jenny Wei

By Canopy Team on November 30, 2018

Jenny Wei

Meet Canopy volunteer, Jenny Wei! Jenny is one of Canopy’s most prolific and dedicated volunteers. Since 2013, she has been involved with many of Canopy’s programs. From tree plantings to events, education to tree surveying, she’s just about done it all! Jenny was a planting leader at Casey Trees in her former home of Washington D.C. before she found Canopy upon her arrival to the Bay Area. Her attentive and inclusive approach to leading volunteers helps her to spread her passion for a healthy urban forest to other Canopy volunteers. We asked Jenny a few questions about what keeps her coming back to Canopy, and what connects her to community forestry.

How did you first become involved with Canopy?

Jenny: I started working with canopy in February 2013. I had just moved to California a few weeks prior from Washington DC, where I had just become a planting leader. My first volunteering day was at Costano School in East Palo Alto and was really tiny (only 4 volunteers) so I got to chat a lot with Canopy staff. I really can’t image how I would have put down roots (pun intended) in California without Canopy.

What is your favorite Canopy memory?

Jenny: Almost too many to choose from really. During one of my relatively early plantings, I led a troop of Girl Scouts in a planting. They were really engaged in the process and did an awesome job, which meant a lot to me since I had been a Girl Scout when I was little. Then years later, I had a fantastic group of community college volunteers at a planting and one of the girls looked familiar–turns out she was from the Girl Scout troop and remembered planting with me so many years ago!

Hands-down, the most meaningful planting I led was a memorial planting. I was on the cusp of crying the whole time, but when we were done, I felt like I was really able to make a contribution to my community that day. I’ve checked on that little redbud for a few years now and it’s still growing well.

What do you love most about the community you live in?

Jenny: I live in Palo Alto near the California Ave train station. I love the awesome restaurants on Cal Ave and the year-round Sunday farmer’s market.

You have been involved with Canopy in so many ways, including as both a Planting Leader and a Young Tree Care Survey Leader. Why do you enjoy each of these roles?

Jenny: I love being a planting leader mostly because of the people. I mean, I love all of the tasks of planting a tree and the absolute satisfaction of making such a long-lasting change for my community, but it’s mostly about the people to me. If I’m doing my job right, I’m empowering others to do the work and getting them excited about trees and our community. I’m a data geek and a FitBit fanatic, so YTS hits both of those. I love how straightforward the task is (especially now that it’s all digital (thank you Tree Plotter Team!) So I get to walk around my neighborhood, looking closely at the young trees and knowing that the time I commit to that will help our urban forest.

What is your favorite tree?

Jenny: Ginkos represent this lovely balance of both change and continuity: I love the bright yellow color of the leaves this time of year and I like thinking how they haven’t changed much since dinosaurs roamed the earth. Or redbuds. I have a thing for redbuds since the first tree I ever planted was a redbud. I once led a memorial planting of a redbud that was probably the most meaningful planting I’ve ever done. Separately, I planted one earlier this year in East Palo Alto that one of my planters (a kindergartener) insisted on calling Pinky Pie, after a My Little Pony.

Why do you care about trees?

Jenny: I care a lot about well-being and trees do great things for our health: From supporting our mental health with their aesthetic beauty, to purifying the air we breathe, to sheltering us from the sun… trees give us so much. And when you plant trees, you get a free workout as well!

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