In the fall of 2013, homeowners from the Irvingdale neighborhood came together to plant shade trees. Neighbors worked together, with some of them meeting each other for the first time. The initial tree planting has led to additional efforts in nearby parks and streets.
Neighbors planted 28 trees from a list of 11 preferred species or cultivars throughout the 112-square block neighborhood. Participants “got their hands dirty” assisting in all phases (digging, planting, staking, mulching, watering) of the planting. There was lots of positive feedback about the hands-on training being useful and appreciated.
Who was Involved:
The 35 volunteers included neighborhood homeowners, INA board members, Nebraska Forest Service staff, and Lincoln Public School students. Additional support came from local businesses, scouts, Digger’s Hotline and the City of Lincoln.
Trees face many difficulties: weather extremes, insects, diseases, lack of diversity, old age; poor tree selection, placement and care; and a lack of appreciation for the many benefits trees provide.
What we learned:
- Planning and building interest takes time. Deadlines make it even more challenging.
- Wide buy-in helps. Core participants are essential and others eventually follow.
- A clear, compelling message and specific volunteer details helps encourage recruitment.
- Face to face contact is the most effective component of volunteer activities.
- Leaders emerge and develop when they are given the opportunity. It's important to find leaders and delegate specific responsibilities to them.
- A clear timeline is crucial to keep people involved and engaged.
- Smaller trees are more manageable, both for organizers and volunteers.
- It’s unrealistic to expect everything to go perfectly, so flexibility and adaptability are required.
- It can be done, it will bring people together and everyone can have fun doing it!