It's finally spring...or at least warm enough for trees! While it may still be a few degrees below average and one of the colder springs we've had in a while, it's time to start planting trees!
This April and May, members from the LUFA team will be heading down to Northwest Indiana nearly every Saturday to plant trees with the Student Conservation Association's (SCA) Calumet Tree Conservation Corps, which is part of the grant-funded CommuniTree program. CommuniTree and SCA are in the midst of a multi-year effort to plant thousands of trees on public properties and post-industrial brownfield lands in order to provide benefits to the people and ecosystems of the cities of Gary, Hammond, Whiting, and East Chicago as well as surrounding communities.
Not only will we be planting trees in parks, golf courses, along streets, and in other public spaces, but LUFA is also conducting a survey of the volunteers that show up to these tree planting events. This is part of the CommuniTree Program Evaluation research being conducted by Dr. Jess Vogt & LUFA students. We're trying to learn more about the types of people that volunteer, how they find out about the event, and what motivates people to come out and plant trees, in order to evaluate the outcomes of grant-funded tree planting for people and ecosystems, as well as help CommuniTree (in only its second year) improve their programming.
At these tree planting events, we're conducting our version of participatory-action research, where LUFA team members attend the event not only in our capacity as researchers to learn, observe, and collect data, but also as full participants in the tree planting activities itself. We get our hands dirty planting trees right along side the SCA crew members and volunteers from the community! See the photographic evidence below from recent plantings in Gary, IN.
For the April 7th planting at IU Northwest, we (Jess, LUFA research assistant Mimi Payne and ENV freshman Tyler Bogartz-Brown) joined the SCA crew, USFS's Drew Hart, SCA's Daiva Gylys, and a large group of volunteers from IUN, the Calumet Artist Residency, Girl Trek, and many more (42 people in total!) to plant 52 trees along Broadway St. This past Saturday, April 20 we were at Washington/Reed Park where we planted 20 trees with the small-but-mighty group consisting of the 4-person Calumet crew and SCA staff CM Tena, plus myself (Jess), LUFA RAs Kaitlyn Pike and Becca Brokaw, and ENV sophomore Taylor Gold). For both dates - and all Saturday tree plantings this season - the day was led by the fantastic 4-member SCA Calumet Tree Conservation Corps: crew leader BreShaun and crew members Joe, Jerome, and Jasmine.
Follow along with the spring CommuniTree activities at the Calumet Tree Conservation Corps Facebook page, the CommuniTree Facebook page, and the SCA Chicago Midwest Facebook page. We'll also keep posting updates and more pictures here at the LUFA blog (and next fall, tune in for the results of the research we're conducting with CommuniTree).
And...come join us some Saturday down in Indiana!
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Jess Vogt, Associate Professor, Env. Science & Studies, DePaul University