While it was not televised like the Oscars and the Golden Globes, Our City Forest had a sublime graduation for the astonishing graduating class of Tree Amigos. Dressed in dapper outfits, our Tree Amigos received their diplomas and read quotes about volunteering and nature.

After 8 sessions of sweat and friendly conversations, our new Tree Amigos are eager to get their hands dirty. All 23 of them. That’s right folks, 23 magnificent Tree Amigos. This is the largest graduating class of Tree Amigos in recent memory.


The Week of the Classics

For the first week of the Opulent Tree Amigo Class, we ventured into the wilderness of San Jose- the Downtown Area. Luckily, Bo Firestone, one of Our City Forest’s certified Arborist, was there to help us find our way in the literal concrete jungle. With her je ne sais quoi air around her, Bo explained the beauty of the trees amidst us and their sacredness to this area. She was often seen holding her large brim hat while talking to the trees. She was able to rival the grace and finesse of Audrey Hepburn.  


The Week of Laughs

The Tree Amigos-in-Training learning how to transplant

The Tree Amigos-in-Training learning how to transplant

The next week, the Marvelous Tree Amigo course took place at the Nursery. Often seen guzzling water from reusable water bottles, the Nursery team pulled out all the stops to wow and amaze the Tree Amigos-in-training. Like a circus. Christian Wimer, the Nursery volunteer coordinator, led us fearlessly to each ring. The first ring was propagation. Afterwards the Tree Amigos-in-training met Ben Heistein, the nursery manager, Ben taught the Tree Amigos-in-training how to prune fruit trees and saplings of non-fruiting trees.

After Pruning, Christian led us to the final ring, Transplanting. The Tree Amigos walked away muddier and happier than a clown covered in banana cream pie.

Pruning, like tight-rope walking, is its’ own type of art form, one needs practice and patience to master it.
— Ben Heistein, Nursery Manager


The Week of Mud

The next week the Tree Amigos-in-Training participated in their very own planting. The planting team joined them while they learned how to work with volunteers, proper planting techniques and got some hands on experience planting their first tree as Tree Amigos. 

The planting team is tough as nails, and many were vocal about the large planting experience. “A few of you will not make it through the day,” warned planting team member, Tom Ginzberg. 

Planting team member Jen Garvin, and Veteran Tree Amigo Louie, explained how to plant a tree. Then Planting Volunteer Coordinator, Alexandra Dunn, paired them off into groups of 3 or 4. At the end of the day they planted 9 trees. “9 trees against the enemy; Pollution.” Ginzberg nodded his head proudly as he looked into the vast field at Watson Park.   

The Tree Amigos-in-Training planting their trees one rainy Saturday. 

The Tree Amigos-in-Training planting their trees one rainy Saturday. 

the mud will stick to your soles. You will never feel clean again.
— Tom Ginzberg, Planting Team Member

The Week of Adventure

The most productive way to defeat the pests, diseases, and competing branches that lay siege to this land. Is by defeating them in small groups
— Kevin Lee, Tree Care Manager

Finally, the Tree Amigos-in-Training had one last beast to slay before graduation. The dragon called Tree Care. The Tree Amigos-in-Training were warned that the dragon called Tree Care was not for the faint of heart. They gathered at Meadowfair Park, the mist hugging the mountains to the East. As the mist started to lift, the Grand Tree Wizard, Kevin Lee, appeared. Standing before the Tree Amigos-in-Training, he spoke. It became apparent that Kevin, the Grand Tree Wizard, had knowledge beyond his years and his powers of trees were vast beyond our mere mortal understanding. Suddenly, he brandished his magical sheers and used them to save a tree from a tragic demise. After the healing process had begun, Kevin turned to the Wise Tree Care Volunteer Coordinator, Karen Jang. She looked to her fellowship of the warriors of Tree Care and divided the group into small teams.

The carrier of the pruners, Victoria, led her small fellowship of 4 to do mulching, pruning, and stake adjustments, everything she could throw at the army of decay. In the end, she and her fellowship walked away victorious in the vicious battle for the life of trees.  “Our kingdom has been saved this time. We have won the battle, but the war still rages.”. But she knew, they had slayed the dragon called Tree Care.

                          12 of the Tree Amigos in their most dapper outfits

                    12 of the Tree Amigos in their most dapper outfits


On Thursday, February 19th, the Tree Amigos-in-Training gathered in their dapper outfits. Together they had laughed, sweated, and bonded through the rigorous trial of the Tree Amigo class. However, looking at each other, they knew they were no longer mere Tree Amigos-in-Training, but full fledged Tree Amigos. They all had come to be the best volunteers that they could be, and they succeeded. Our City Forest could not be prouder of the Winter 2015 Tree Amigo Class. Congratulations!