Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Contributing Writer - Lacey Brown, Education Coordinator

My eight weeks with the 11 hard-charging, dedicated and lively high school students of this year’s Casey Trees' Summer Crew came to a triumphant end Friday. I feel a great sense of accomplishment for myself, the students and Casey Trees as an organization.

Summer Crew is all about achieving goals focused on
tree care, job responsibility and career development.

We want to lead students in caring for trees (watering, weeding and mulching) that we have planted within the past three years, train them to show up to work on time and work a full schedule and expose them to different careers in urban forestry.

We also set a goal to water 2,500 trees over the eight-week session. When the students reached that goal at the beginning of week five, I could not have been more proud. They went on to surpass that goal, watering over 4,500 trees by program end.
Another goal, which seemed very pie-in-the-sky at the time, was to water each tree on our list three times. Due to their dedication, each tree was watered four or five times.

On the first day of the program we asked each crew member to share their goals for the summer. The students mentioned wanting to do something worthwhile with their time, help out their City, meet new people and learn more about trees and environmentalism. One goal shared by all the students, and one I hope they achieved, was to find a career path or hobby.

After a summer caring for trees, they’ll never be able to look at our urban forest the same. They won’t be able to look down an urban street without thinking, “This street needs more trees,” or “Those tree boxes should be bigger. They won’t be able to visit a park without thinking, “Those young trees really need some water,” or “That picnic area needs some shade.” They won’t be able to visit a home without thinking, “A tree could be planted there… and there… and there.” I hope this experience leads them to careers in forestry and a life-long love for trees.

Casey Trees welcomes sponsors for this life-changing program. Summer Crew is an opportunity for individuals, groups and businesses to inspire and support the next generation of tree stewards. For more information, click here.

Monday, August 23, 2010


Contributing Writer - Caroline Michniak, Education Intern

While en route back to the Great Lake State, I pondered my time spent interning at Casey Trees. I am proud of what I accomplished and happy I learned so much about trees.

While at Casey Trees I worked in the education department helping to spread the word about the many benefits of trees. I was struck by how genuinely motivated each staff member was to keeping DC the "City of Trees".

One of the most rewarding parts of my internship was working with Casey Trees' High School Summer Crew. I was able to help organize their orientation session and professional development activities. It was great to see their skill set grow each day. Like staff, each Summer Crew member was very welcoming and friendly. These motivated students are great examples of how we all can get involved in caring for our urban forest.

This summer has also peaked my interest in a career in environmental law or public policy. Being able pass and/or enforce laws safeguarding our environment sounds ideal.

Thank you to Casey Trees for a great summer and learning experience.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Contributing Writer - Kelly Crabtree, Summer Crew Team Member

Spending the summer in DC is never ideal due to the extreme heat and humidity but being able to work with Casey Trees these past eight weeks made staying in town worth it.

I have not only learned a lot about trees but I have had so many great experiences that I could not have had elsewhere. I have met people from diverse backgrounds and traveled to areas of the city that I have never been to before.
I also look at new and familiar places with a totally fresh perspective. Instead of just looking at different stores or people, I scan for fire hydrants to hook a hose up to, a lonely cone that could be ours and all the trees that need watering.

All summer we have had a lot of fun watering trees. I've enjoyed everything from talking to my fellow crew members and people on the street to playing games while we wait for the water bladder and Ooze Tubes to fill up.

One day I was watering a tree near D
upont Circle and a man came up to me with such excitement and says, “thank you, what you are doing is wonderful!" He helped me to realize that our work mattered and was making a real difference.

As my time on the Summer Crew comes to an end, I want to say thank you to Casey Trees for giving me this wonderful opportunity to work with you.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Contributing Writer - Dylan Oliver, Summer Crew Team Member

Hi my name is Dylan and I’m part of Casey Trees'
Water By-Cycle crew.

All summer long we have been watering trees by accessing fire hydrants. It's hard work but I have really enjoyed it. Along with our everyday tasks of watering, mulching and weeding trees, we have participated in four career development days. These hands on exercises have taught me many interesting things about trees and careers related to arboriculture.

Our first professional development day was at the U.S. National Park Service's American elm nursery on Dangerfield Island. Just one person - Barry Stahl - raises the American elms that get planted across the District. It was a fun day and it was cool to see elm trees at different stages in their maturation process.

For two weeks after, we watered trees. Since I am on the Water By-Cycle crew I got to work on my biking skills which is always fun. I also began to feel like I was getting into better shape.

Our next career development day focused on learning how to incorporate trees into the built environment using innovate tree space design. It was pretty interesting to see how smart but practical design can help trees grow better in urban environments.

After three weeks of intense biking/watering in extreme heat, we participated in my favorite professional development day, tree climbing with staff from The Davey Tree Expert Company.

For this event we went to the U.S. National Arboretum. Tree climbing is the fun part of an important job. Davey staff regularly climbs trees to prune and inspect tall trees.

Our last professional development day was a scavenger hunt at the National Zoo. Using GIS and other instruments, we located specific trees around the zoo and recorded data about each tree's health and size. This was pretty interesting and I learned the names of a lot of different trees.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Contributing Writer - Ben Marshall, Summer Crew Team Member

I have been having an amazing summer at Casey Trees.

Each morning Summer Crew members assigned to truck teams break into two groups. We then travel all across D.C weeding and watering trees. Initially we watered trees not reachable by a hose by pouring water from buckets into Ooze Tubes using funnels. By the second week all the bending over was starting to make my back sore.

That same week I found myself staring at a traffic cone and thinking it was was just a bigger version of a funnel. When I realized this, I told my friend Will who encouraged me to see if it would get help get water into the Ooze Tubes faster and reduce how often we needed to bend over. It did!

Ever since then we have been using the traffic cones to help us water trees. It makes us more efficient and helps save our backs!


Contributing Writer - Michael Robinson, Summer Crew Team Member

I was told on the first day of work that the next 8 weeks would fly by. I sort of scoffed at this, and our goal of watering 2,500 trees. However, as I sit and write this blog entry, with almost 4,000 trees under the
Summer Crew’s belt, all I can ask myself is - where did the time go?

One of the most gratifying parts of this job has been being able to see the City. Living in Montgomery County, I don’t come into the City often. When I do, I am usually just passing through to Virginia. So my own little “bonus” to this gig is I get to tour the City.

But as of recent that thrill of a new “adventure” everyday has been lessened. The Summer Crew has been combing through the maps at an astonishing pace. Some of the locations we were projected to only visit three to four times, we’ve hit five or six. Sometimes I have to ask Mike (both Crew Chiefs as well as myself share the same name; makes things confusing sometimes), “Didn’t we water these trees last week?” But in this oven-like weather I guess the trees need all the water they can get.

A funny thing has been happening to me off the job. When I walk down the streets in my neighborhood all I seem to think about is how nice and big the tree boxes are for the trees, how some open areas could really use a couple of trees for shade and how accessible some fire hydrants are to trees. These thoughts never even crossed my mind before. I joke about this sometimes with the other crew members and they share their thoughts of the same nature. I don’t know if this is healthy or not but it does show I’m learning an awful lot about trees.

The truth is I and everyone else on the Summer Crew work really hard. I lug forty pound buckets in record high temperatures and sweat in places I didn’t know could. But I also get a lot out of it. I’ve made friendships with kids I wouldn’t otherwise have ever met, I get to take part in an effort to really improve human lives by helping trees live and I participate in fun professional development events.

Take last Friday at our tree climbing outing. The guys from The Davey Tree Expert Company were great, and even a little funny. But the best part was, I got to climb a tree! It definitely looked a lot easier than it turned out to be. I saw some of the crew members go up before me and I asked myself why they were having so much trouble. It looked easy after all. After being strapped in my harness I learned otherwise.

I pride myself on being an athlete by playing football, wrestling and being a field thrower. But before I got even halfway up the tree, my forearms and shoulders were on fire. I was tempted to ask the Davey Trees guys where to buy that equipment so I could add tree climbing to my workout.

I didn’t even make it all the way up, not because of fatigue, but rather fear. Once I was a good distance up, I looked down and all I could think about was how much it would hurt if I fell. So I hustled down. For all I do for these trees to stay alive, I don’t want one killing me.

Monday, August 9, 2010


Contributing Writer - Juan Palencia, Summer Crew Team Member

My name is Juan and I am a student at Northwestern High School in Prince George's County. I am so happy to be working for Casey Trees because I get to help the City stay green by caring for its trees.

My favorite place to water trees in the District is downtown because a lot of people see us in action and are reminded they should water their trees at home. To water trees, we use Ooze Tubes. We fill them with 25 gallons of water and the bags slowly release the water to be absorbed by each tree's root system. It's a really effective way to make sure trees gets the necessary amount of water to survive.

In addition to learning about trees and tree care, Casey Trees has taught me a number of professional development skills and introduced us to different "green" careers. Just last week, they partnered with
The Davey Tree Expert Company to teach us how to tree climb. I was surprised by how much strength it took for me to make it to just the first branch. While tree climbing was exhausting, I had a great time.

I would like to thank Casey Trees for giving me the opportunity to work with them and introducing me to my fellow teammates.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Contributing Writer - Cartrell Wiggins, Summer Crew Team Member

My name is Cartrell Wiggins and I'm a member of Casey Trees' 2010 Summer Crew. We're in our fifth week of work and we've already exceeded our initial goal of watering 2,500 trees before the end of the summer.

I think that this year's Summer Crew has been so productive because our crew members are so creative. One of our crew's innovations includes the use of large cones instead of funnels. This significantly decreases the amount of time it takes to fill an Ooze Tube as well as the amount of spilled water.

I also like the other crew members. Everyone at Casey Trees is interesting and I enjoy working with them. Each crew member has their own personality and it's fun to be around them.

Our crew also participated in a day of exercises about tree planning and design. It was a very interesting experience. We learned a lot about the placement of trees and how they correspond with the areas around them. The crew walked to a nearby park where we observed the landscape and the flow of traffic. Then we used maps to plan out where we would plant trees.

I enjoy working for Casey Trees and I look forward to the rest of the summer.