Monday, July 26, 2010


Contributing Writer - Claire Adler, Summer Crew Team Member

As I sit down to write, we are exactly halfway through Summer Crew—four weeks have already flown by. While each day may seem long and often grueling (especially this past hot, humid week), when I look back on the work we’ve done as a whole, everything has gone by so quickly. I am left wondering how it is possible that we have accomplished so much in so little time.

So far, we have watered forty percent more trees than our goal for half the summer. While I had originally thought that the oppressive heat would diminish our productivity, I think it has inspired us to work even harder. And it is especially good that we have done so much since the trees need extra care in this heat.

One thing I love about Summer Crew, and the main reason I wanted to work for
Casey Trees over working as a store clerk, is that I am able to get to know other high school kids from around DC. And I have done exactly that. Each day I discover something new about someone on the Crew, and every week we become closer as a group. So yes, we are successful in part due to our shared goal to beat the heat, but I think that most of our triumphs can be attributed to how we’re able to work together as a group. On the truck crew we switch up the groups every day, but we’re all so familiar with each other that we are easily able to get a lot done. I also have gotten to know the city much better.

Although I have been a DC resident for my entire life, I haven’t been everywhere in the city. By helping making the city a greener place, I have acquainted myself with many new parts of the District. Now that we’ve watered each tree at least once and are revisiting trees for a second or third watering, I really know where I am. I look forward to being able to go to these new parts of DC with my friends and point out Casey Trees' trees.

So these past four weeks have been wonderful, but as I stated at the beginning we have four more weeks left to go. I can only hope that we continue our upwards trend of helping more trees than I would have thought possible this summer.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Contributing Writer - William E. Omorogieva, Summer Crew Team Member

This week with the Summer Crew was a very interesting experience. The weather was nice and cool for the majority of the week helping the Summer Crew water a record number of trees - 200 - in a single day.

In addition to hard work, this amazing accomplishment was aided by new automatic pumps that were delivered during the middle of the week. All of us helped lift the large and heavy watering mechanisms onto the trucks. Although the pumps are slow, it helps to have people and a hose watering different trees at the same time.

The best part of the week was our planning and design day at Casey Trees' headquarters. It was even more heavenly due to the air conditioning inside the office compared to the scorching 90 degree weather outside. We spent all of our time with Maisie Hughes, Director of Planning and Design at Casey Trees. This day was very fun and interesting. I learned a lot.

We played games such as Tree Jeopardy and learned the role an arborist plays in nurturing trees in the city. We learned new techniques to plant and care for trees in the city.
After our indoor activities, we took a short walk to a park where we observed all of the ways trees affect a community. We then traveled back to the office and did an activity involving maps.

In this activity we were all given a map, a pencil and instructions to develop a tree friendly low-impact concept design for a site in the Navy Yard neighborhood. The exercise tested what we learned throughout the day. My best idea was putting trees on the roof of a parking garage.

Overall I enjoyed this week due to the great weather and the change from the normal routine. Hopefully we can break another single day record for tree watering and learn just as much as we did this week.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Contributing Writer - Rob Catalanotto, Summer Crew Team Member

The last two weeks have been an eye-opening experience for me. As a 16-year-old, my only other paying job was as a camp counselor where the toughest challenge was telling a kid to “Share your Legos". After 12 days of working at Casey Trees, I can say that I am much more used 100-degree temperatures and that my farmer's tan is becoming more pronounced by the day.

One of the most interesting parts of our work day is getting approached by people on the street. Usually the people are simply passersby wondering what we are doing. At this point, I know how to explain in a succinct way why we are using an upside down cone to pour buckets of water into strange-looking bags.

However, there are times when people just want directions. I may be good at explaining what Ooze Tubes are but when it comes to giving directions, no matter how well I know the area, I am a miserable failure. Usually, my directions are so detailed that the person leaves more confused than before.

Other times, I don't know where I am and in my wholehearted attempt to help the person, I send him or her in the wrong direction. This actually happened today, when a man walked up to me, looking rushed, and asked me how to get to Rhode Island Avenue. I looked at the street signs and decided Rhode Island Avenue was north of where we were (just like the state!). I pointed in the direction that I was sure of, the man thanked me and left. I felt good about helping the stressed looking man until a few minutes later I saw him walking in the opposite direction that I had sent him in. Clearly he got more reliable directions after speaking with me.

At that moment I decided I would only give directions to my Crew Chief - using a map of Washington D.C. - for the rest of the summer. Hopefully by then I will have a better feel of the city, for the benefit of myself and the unfortunate people who happen to ask me for help.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Contributing Writer - Marshall Lockyer Leland, Summer Crew Team Member

When I think back on my past week with
Casey Trees, adjectives such as hardworking, fun and fulfilling pop into my mind.

To begin with, Casey Trees is not a lax organization. They have a strong mission statement and each day they push us to do the best that we can. Thus far, the Summer Crew has surpassed all expectations and hope to continue to do so.

My favorite experience from last week was visiting the U.S. National Park Service's American elm nursery on Dangerfield Island. This experience taught me a lot about the American elm and gave me the chance to plant trees for the first time.

We also had ample time to ask questions about different tree species and illnesses. One of the many interesting facts I learned was that Dutch Elm Disease (DED) killed hundreds of thousands of American elms across the country and that the cultivars planted today are much more resistant to DED.

The trip to Dangerfield Island was also very fulfilling because the American elms planted there ultimately make it onto the National Mall. I found it very cool to think that in five or so years, one of the trees that I potted or planted may end up at one of the most famous places in America.


This past week I also joined the Water By-Cycle crew which was something I really wanted to do. It is amazingly fun and each day I come home feeling fit, healthy and satisfactorily sore. On average we work in two Wards a day and bike for approximately two hours. The rest of the time is devoted to watering and weeding trees.

My two colleagues,
Sean and Dylan, are great guys and Adam, the Bicycle Crew Captain, is awesome. With their company and jokes the hours fly by making each day that much better.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


So, it has begun. We are one week into our eight-week Summer Crew program dedicated to the watering and care of the District's trees.

We began our week with a general orientation, introduction to Casey Trees and a discussion on why restoring the District's tree canopy is so important. We also had the opportunity to meet all of the staff at Casey Trees.

Since we are in our sixth straight month of below average precipitation, our job of watering and mulching trees is especially important. By the end of our time at Casey Trees we will have completed 2500 waterings. We started off strong this week, watering hundreds of trees a day.

As one-fourth of the Water By-Cycle team, I have had many new experiences. I have ridden my bike from the yard in Brookland to the southernmost tip of DC and back. I have had three different fire hydrants spray me in the face, two of which that blew their caps off in the process.
I have been taught that weeding trees is not just about aesthetics (weeds can soak up quick summer showers, depriving young saplings of much needed water). This job has given me a completely different perspective on urban forestry.

What I have realized is that our job is not just about keeping mulch away from the base of trees or making sure it is weed-free. Our job is about helping to make the District a better place to live, work and play and we intend to do that.