People love to plant trees. It's physical, team oriented and the results are highly visible. These traits are a good place to start when designing any project for any audience, but especially relatable to students who often spend more time in a chair, working alone in a class that may never provide tangible outcomes in their lives. So it wasn’t a hard sell to get students at Richmond High School interested in joining our Urban Forestry Project this Fall.

The urban agriculture team poses for a group photo. There are 11 students in safety vests, next to a newly planted tree.

Starting by working within an Urban Agriculture class, EarthTeam staff has been bringing in guest speakers and equipment to introduce students to the concepts of Urban Forestry while simultaneously engaging them in an active process of identifying, designing, planning and implementing a range of tree planting opportunities around campus and with community partners.

A classroom presentation about urban agriculture.

Students are learning how to test soil, design an urban forest, identify tree species, pruning techniques and tree health and of course tree planting, all with the goal of adding more trees to their local community. Students are studying the many health benefits trees have in a community from air quality and carbon sequestering to safer neighborhoods and storm water capturing.

Three students plant a tree.

After a strong show of interest in the classroom, EarthTeam opened up a year long after school internship to continue the Urban Forestry project beyond regular school hours. Fourteen stipended student interns meet once a week after class and on the occasional weekend to implement planting projects such as the recent Arbor Day planting at JFK park in Richmond. Students are currently working with the city of San Pablo to design and plant a section of the recently developed Wanlass Park with a demonstration urban forest. This planting is set to take place in January after we hopefully receive some winter rains.