Trees Atlanta helps city grow through education

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Trees Atlanta helps city grow through education

Blooming: Trees

Blooming: Trees

Blooming: Trees

Blooming: Trees

Erik Tischer

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One of the gems of Atlanta is the organization Trees Atlanta. Hidden in plain sight, Trees Atlanta helps maintain Atlanta’s green canopy that fools people into thinking the city isn’t a sprawling metropolis. On almost every street in metro Atlanta is a tree that has been planted by Trees Atlanta, and on more than a couple of occasions there are dozens of newly planted trees which help create Atlanta’s beautiful canopy.

“I run the education center called the Treehouse,” said Judy Yi, the director of education at Trees Atlanta. “It is a separate facility from our headquarters and is dedicated to education. The people that work with me there are passionate, amazing people who believe in our mission, which is trees.”


Some of the many programs that Trees Atlanta provides include weekly plantings of trees around Atlanta, educational programs, volunteer opportunities, and continuing care of trees. All of these programs mix with the array of people who  volunteer to help keep the city beautiful and create an organization that is truly unique.


“Trees Atlanta has planting days where a bunch of volunteers come out and the Trees Atlanta staff gives a demonstration how to plant a tree properly and we plant trees,” said junior Blake Fowler, a Trees Atlanta volunteer.. “On average there will be a bunch of college people coming out and all working together in groups of two and most of the time we have about twenty people.”


One of the main focuses of Trees Atlanta is the education of the youth on  how to  take care and plant trees. Volunteer opportunities occur year round, and during the summer there are even job positions available to select high school students who want to delve deeper into the program.


“We also host summer camps for children like the Junior Treekeepers,” Yi said. “It is a fantastic summer camp program that we conduct at the Treehouse, and it is focused on teaching young people about being active and outside and being exposed to nature. We are trying to create future environmental stewards.”


The organization’s main youth educational program is Urban Tree Trackers, a K-12 program that gives kids a unique hands on experience with the environment. The idea behind this program is to have children at a young age gain an appreciation of the environment around them and the trees that make up that environment. By doing this, Trees Atlanta plans to educate young adults on how important trees are to Atlanta and the world.


One of the most beloved landmarks in Atlanta is the Beltline. Working together with Trees Atlanta, they have been able to create the Atlanta Beltline Arboretum. This program is a two decade long project that involves planting several thousand trees along the beltline. The Atlanta Beltline Arboretum when finished will be a twenty two mile long horticultural collection.


“One of our projects is called Canopy Conversations,” Yi said. “We go into the neighborhood and we update the neighborhood on the state of the canopy, and we share canopy data, benefits of the tree canopy, and what they can do to help the tree canopy in their area.”


The types of trees that Trees Atlanta  plants varies depending on the location of their planting site. With certified arborists, Trees Atlanta gets native Georgia Piedmont trees from nurseries in the south east.


With the help of the city of Atlanta government, outgoing individuals, and numerous sponsors, this non-profit organization helps plant trees all throughout Atlanta inside I-285. Anywhere from schools to parks to churches are fair game for a Trees Atlanta tree.


“Trees atlanta is mainly volunteer based and some money comes from the city, but it is mostly volunteer and partnerships like NPR which helps them get enough money to go get trees,” Fowler said. “We plant around the city and do a lot of work on the beltline. You can see our trees along Dekalb avenue and in neighborhoods around the city.”


Started in 1985, Trees Atlanta has kept to their mission statement of protecting and improving Atlanta’s urban forest through planting, conserving, and educating. Since the 1970s, Atlanta has lost around sixty percent of its tree canopy. Trees Atlanta has worked tirelessly to fix this problem over the course of thirty years, and with over 100,000 trees planted, they continue to improve Atlanta everyday.


“Planting is filling to me and makes me real tired, but a good kind of tired,” Fowler said. “It makes me tired from working, and it feels good to give back to the planet and the community and to know that we are making our city better.”
From 2013 to 2014 Trees Atlanta was able to provide 22,500 hours of community service as well as plant 3,590 trees. Every year the amount of trees they plant and the people that get involved keeps increasing.

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