By Derek Lirange
The Worcester Tree Initiative recently began its ninth watering season with our Young Adult Forestry (YAF) Program. We will water at least 400 trees each week – in city planting strips, in parks, and other public planting locations. Additionally, we will care for the Franklin Street Traffic Island, the WWI Memorial Grove Trees in Green Hill Park, the cherry trees on the West Boylston Street Planting Strip and trees in Dodge Park. All sites are located in Worcester. Each year we partner with the City of Worcester Forestry Department, The Worcester Youth Center, the Massport Foundation, and our summer volunteers to water and care for as many city of Worcester public trees as possible.
Over the years, our YAF program has evolved and we are proud of the changes we have made. Originally, we only watered street trees that had been planted by the Forestry Department. Now we work with two teams of young adults. One team waters city of Worcester street trees using our watering tank system in one of Tower Hill’s trucks. The second team helps with other tree related projects. These projects include bucket watering park trees, mulching trees in parks and on the street, weeding tree sites, removing old tree stakes, and distributing tree care information to all residents who received new trees this spring.
This year we reserved Mondays for training sessions. While one team is on the truck watering, a second team is trained in the field, or at Tower Hill. They will learn about tree identification, green industry jobs, tracking the health of public trees, and basic tree pruning. They will shadow the city of Worcester Forestry Department and the DCR/USDA Tree Climbers in the area. Our hope is to educate these young people about the green jobs industry and about urban greening in general. There have been former YAFs who have continued on to green careers in the US and internationally.
Our program is growing every year and we look forward to many summers working with young adults, caring for trees and teaching about the environment and the green jobs industry.
Derek Lirange is a community forester with Tower Hill’s Worcester Tree Initiative.