Volunteer Spotlight: Maria Parlante

By Canopy Team on March 11, 2019

Maria Parlante

Meet Canopy volunteer, Maria Parlante! Maria is one of Canopy’s incredible Education Leader volunteers. As an Education Leader, Maria helps Canopy bring nature, and the wonder of it, into classrooms. In this post, Maria answers a few questions about what it’s like to be an Education Leader with Canopy.

Why did you decide with volunteer at Canopy as an Education Leader?

Maria: I decided to leave full-time work a year and half ago and spend more time on things I care about. Canopy offered a great opportunity to learn more about trees and nature while sharing this exploration with kids who love to learn too! I also appreciate the flexible scheduling since I juggle various activities.

What do you like best about teaching Canopy’s tree lessons to students?

Maria: Their curiosity and enthusiasm, and seeing them make connections. I remember doing a lesson with a hands-on exploration of cones and seeds from various trees, and some of the kids were really amazed by them—it was so exciting to share that they could easily find these things right in their own neighborhood, once they start looking!

Which of Canopy’s lessons that you teach is your favorite?

Maria: I really enjoy the one that combines a classroom exploration of all the parts of the tree followed by going outside and…planting some trees together!

Why do you feel it is important to teach young students about trees?

Maria: Because trees are a part of nature that everyone encounters every day. I hope that after our lessons kids notice the trees around them more, see them in more detail, and appreciate some of the amazing processes going on in, on, and around them.

What first sparked your passion for trees and environmental education?

Maria: Although I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors, I was never particularly aware of what was going on around me nature-wise. After moving back to California and getting into hiking, my interest was really sparked and I started exploring everything–rocks, birds, trees, you name it! My favorite thing about learning something new is sharing it with others, so that’s what brings me to the educational aspect. I also love working with kids to discover that nature isn’t just something “out there” but is really all around us–we live on an amazing planet.

Thanks Maria!

Interesting in becoming a Canopy Education Leader? Check out Canopy’s workshop coming up this Saturday March 16, Engaging Youth in the Urban Forest, to learn about environmental literacy and train to be an education leader. Register today for the workshop through Canopy’s Community Forestry School.


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