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Announcing our NEW Volunteer Specialist, Heather!

December 15, 2015

It’s my pleasure to introduce myself as the new Volunteer Specialist at Sacramento Tree Foundation! My name is Heather Smith and I just joined the Sac Tree crew November 18. As an outdoor enthusiast and forever tree-hugger, I am super excited about joining an organization dedicated to growing healthy, livable communities by building the best urban forest in the nation.

I recently traded in the temperate deciduous forests (and cold winters) of Wisconsin for the diverse forest biomes (and perpetual sunshine) of California.I earned my bachelor’s in Biology at Michigan State University and my master’s in Environmental Science with a focus on volunteerism, outreach, and education at the University of Wisconsin - Madison.

I am thrilled to join the Sacramento Tree Foundation and cannot wait to meet all of you volunteers, partners, and supporters! I kicked off my first week by attending a volunteer tree planting event at Stone Lakes Wildlife Refuge on November 21.This wildlife refuge gem, located in Elk Grove, plays a crucial role in protecting and conserving habitat for Central Valley wildlife. With the help of volunteers, Sac Tree has planted over 500 plants and trees at this particular 13-acre plot at Stone Lakes over the past three years.

Fuelled by coffee, fresh fruit, and a little sugar (who can resist breakfast pastries?), I joined a group of 35 volunteers on a beautiful day for a tree planting event. With blue skies, ample sunshine, sand hill cranes flying over head, and sounds of volunteer laughter; I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction. And we had a group of real hustlers, folks! We completed the planting in record time – 200 native plants in the ground in less than 2.5 hours!

I enjoyed touring Stone Lakes Wildlife Refuge, getting to know our volunteers and staff, and admiring our newly-planted trees and shrubs. And I learned a few things too. Most importantly, our volunteers are a really fun, dedicated, hard-working, and flexible group of individuals. Secondly, it appears that our tree planting events run like a well-oiled machine. We’ve done a great job recruiting and supporting volunteers to help us with our mission of planting 5 million trees in the region, but we’re just getting started!

I am envisioning the creation of a dynamic, vibrant, and evolving volunteer program with a variety of volunteer positions requiring varying levels of commitment and skill level. I’d like to create a program that allows volunteers to gain a deeper understanding of urban forestry, ecological restoration, and community engagement while giving volunteers the opportunity to graduate to positions with more responsibility, creativity, and ownership. I’d love to hear from you on what you’d like our volunteer program to look like and how best to enhance the volunteer experience!

Please drop me an email (volunteer@sactree.com), give me a call (916-974-4310), or sign up for one of our upcoming events. I am here to listen to your ideas and to get to know your stories. I invite your feedback as we move forward with developing a robust volunteer program here at the Sacramento Tree Foundation. Please join us in this journey!