Volunteers plant fruit trees in Grant Square with the Worcester Tree Initiative.

Recently, we connected with Ruth Seward, executive director of the Worcester Tree Initiative, a department of Tower Hill, about their first decade and what’s coming next…

Q: Congratulations on WTI reaching its 10 year anniversary. What would you say is one of your biggest accomplishments?
One of our biggest accomplishments is being part of replanting over 30,000 trees in the Asian Longhorned Beetle Zone, which includes Worcester, Boylston, West Boylston, Holden, Shrewsbury and Auburn. We are especially proud of planting with almost every school in Worcester and in many of the schools in the other ALB towns.

Q: On a personal level, how have you enjoyed working with the various parties in Worcester who come together in support of the area’s trees?
Personally, my favorite part of my job is connecting with other people around tree planting, tree education, and tree care. I love partnering with individuals and groups who take an interest in coordinating a tree planting or tree care event. There are an amazing number of people who work to keep trees in our communities and I value each and every one of them.

Community forester leads Anna Maria College students volunteering at Dodge Park.

Q: What is it like working with community forester Derek Lirange?
Derek and I have worked together for nearly six years. Like any close relationship we both constantly rely on each other and learn from each other.  I greatly value all Derek brings to the table: a lot of tree knowledge, a calm and kind demeanor, and an ethic of hard work. Derek and I work well together and it shows in all we are able to accomplish.

Tower Hill CEO Grace Elton, WTI executive director Ruth Seward, and Tower Hill horticulture director Mark Richardson on site in Worcester for a road median planting.

Q: WTI is now a department of Tower Hill Botanic Garden. What has that partnership been like?
Becoming a department of Tower Hill made it possible for our agency to move from a temporary replanting program to a permanent community outreach department of the Garden. It is a game changer for us in so many good ways. We are increasing our capacity because of the support we have from our co-workers, the Tower Hill Board of Trustees, and Grace Elton, CEO of the Garden.

Q: What is WTI working on these days?
WTI is still out planting in the community and broadened our program this year to include Gardner and Clinton.

Our other current projects include construction of an urban tree nursery in Webster Square Worcester; increasing our community tree stewards, ‘ Stewards in the Streets, which has evolved into a year round program of tree planting and tree care; and coordinating  our Young Adult Watering Program, which is in its ninth year and will help water city planted trees in Worcester.

The Worcester Tree Initiative helped the Healing Garden in Harvard, Mass., prune trees on their property.

Q: What does the future look like for WTI?
The future of Worcester Tree Initiative, a department of Tower Hill, is to continue to bring Tower Hill into the community through tree events. We want to engage with people in their community and get them interested in their environment. We want to encourage people to appreciate the beauty of Tower Hill Botanic Garden and then bring some of this beauty back to their own neighborhoods.