Prologue by Tree Canada

Non-profits and charities around the country rely on the generous support of volunteers to develop new initiatives and expedite projects that would otherwise get shelved. Tree Canada is no different.

In recognition of National Volunteer Week, we would like to honour and thank all our volunteers for the contributions they’ve made – whether it was writing articles and reports, researching, performing administrative tasks, building resources, or of course, planting trees. Because of you, we can continue to grow better communities. Our biggest tree-felt thank to you all.

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When my children were growing up, I arranged for classes of students to plant trees in their schoolyards almost annually until they grew out of the school system (the kids that is, not the trees). Although it was hard work, it was a lot of fun and incredibly rewarding. Most of those trees are still a part of my community, many have grown to a nice size now.

When retirement loomed, the one fixed plan I had was to get involved in tree planting again, especially in schoolyards. I did a little research into sources of funding and rediscovered Tree Canada’s Greening Canada School Grounds and Edible Trees programs.

Tree Canada was very welcoming, so I started turning up twice a week to do whatever they needed, which turned out to be a wide variety of projects, all of which have been in the sweet spot of my interests. The workout my brain cells get from learning new technologies is an extra added bonus!

So far, I’ve written case studies on successful tree planting projects, updated a resource guide for teachers to bring tree-related curriculum to their students, and even planted trees as part of their National Tree Day celebration. I’m tickled pink to be on a task force to update the online tree species reference on the Tree Canada website, however the highlight of my volunteer career at Tree Canada so far was to be invited to be an evaluator for the Edible Trees and Greening Canada School Grounds grant applications (after some persistent pokes in the program manager’s side). Reading about the exciting initiatives to green public spaces was definitely inspiring. When we are allowed to travel again, I hope to check out some of those greened spaces!

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a whole new spin on my Tree Canada projects. Faced with a boringly empty agenda and a worrisome new world, it has been wonderful to be able to continue my Tree Canada activities at home and help deal with the COVID angst. Watching as the trees come back to life and making a contribution to a greener future has never been more meaningful and relevant.

Tree Cheers!
Gillian Cooper
Tree Canada volunteer