TreePeople’s Citizen Arborist program is designed to train and produce a trusted network of community members who help keep our trees healthy and thriving. Certified Citizen Arborists are expert volunteers who support their neighborhoods in caring for their local trees. They are on the front lines of growing a healthy urban forest and improving the environment of Los Angeles. Peter Diep, who was recognized with TreePeople’s Volunteer of the Year award, led his first street tree care event right after earning his official Citizen Arborist status in the fall of 2012.
Peter had always been an avid tree planting volunteer. “Once I found out that the average life expectancy for urban trees was [only] seven years, I was shocked,” he says. “I then understood the necessity for community involvement”—and he signed up for the Citizen Arborist program.
Neighbors have applauded Peter for taking the lead in getting trees planted on Benefit Street, Van Nuys Boulevard, and the aptly named Greenleaf Street in Sherman Oaks.
Peter approaches residents in front of their apartments and houses and even goes door-to-door for their signatures on tree-planting proposals. He has teamed up with other Citizen Arborists who live nearby and wants to form a cohesive green team with them.
Taking his advocacy even further, Peter has secured his neighborhood council’s official endorsement and funding to plant eight new trees in Sherman Oaks. He explained to the council how, through the Citizen Arborist program, he has been able to reach out to create a sense of community through the act of planting—and, crucial to long-term success—caring for trees. “I go all over Los Angeles County with TreePeople,” he told Examiner.com. “One day it hit me: why am I not doing this in my own neighborhood?”
Candidates for the Citizen Arborist program qualify by attending a 7-week series of free workshops that entail plenty of practical hands-on training by professional arborists. They offer their expertise on such topics as how to plant and care for trees, tree anatomy and physiology, pruning, pest and disease management, and tree identification (check out photos of the students in a recent class held at the natural History Museum). Certified Citizen Arborists help lead local community tree care events and mentor community tree care teams so that the city’s tree canopy grows and thrives.
Peter embraces the commitment he’s made since embarking on his Citizen Arborist training and recommends that other volunteers boost the level of their involvement. “I walked away with a greater understanding of our urban landscape,” he says. “Now I’m confident in my ability to draw support for our goals.”
You can become a tree leader in your community. Register for the next Citizen Arborist training, May 11–June 29, 2013:
Need neighborhood tree planting and care advice before summer? Connect with the Citizen Arborist in your area! E-mail Linda Eremita for more information: email@example.com