By Janet Goertzen

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Tree Canada staff at the Vanier Muséopark sugar bush. April 2014

I started my field placement at Tree Canada on Monday, March 10, 2014. I’m currently (though not for much longer) a student in the Professional Writing program at Algonquin College in Ottawa. For the last six weeks, I’ve been helping the communications team with various tasks, such as managing social media accounts, editing website content and layout, and writing press releases. And it’s been great: I’ve been trained to do all of this in school, but it’s another thing altogether to actually put it into practice for a real organization.

On the second last day of my placement, we took a staff trip to the Vanier Museopark Sugar Shack. We started with a delicious pancake breakfast with fresh maple syrup, and took a tour of the sugar bush after our meal. Though the weather was chilly, especially for mid-April, we managed to tough it out and have a great time.

Doing my field placement at Tree Canada felt like a natural fit for me. As a child, I spent a great deal of my time climbing an old maple tree in my backyard. We had a huge backyard, complete with a garden, swimming pool, swing set, and lots of open space for running around and playing. But my favourite part was easily that maple tree. Whenever it was warm out (and even sometimes when it wasn’t), I’d hoist myself up onto the lowest branch and start climbing. Sometimes I’d bring a book with me, but usually I’d just go up there to talk to my imaginary friend (yes, I was one of those kids) and to think the deep thoughts only a ten-year-old can think.

My family moved out of that house when I was 12, and I lost my favourite tree. The new house was also in a newly-developed area, meaning that there were no trees big enough for climbing. They weren’t the right trees, either—no maples. (I’m sure there are other, non-maple trees that are great for climbing, but since that was my first experience, it will remain engrained in my mind as the best experience and the only option.)

Through my teen years I gradually disconnected from trees, and from nature and the environment in general. Not only did I not have any trees to climb, I started spending more time inside as my interests shifted from playing outside to playing computer games. Instead of reading in my tree, I would read on the couch.

So coming to Tree Canada has been a great opportunity for me to go back to my roots (pun intended, sorry). Being here and learning about all of the programs this organization has to offer has reminded me of why I loved trees so much as a kid. It’s been an honour to be a small part of this organization that’s so committed to growing better places to live.

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