Since 1989, Trees Forever has been planting and caring for trees and the environment and building community in and around Iowa and Illinois. In their 25-year history, Trees Forever has planted more than 49,000 trees and seedlings in Cedar Rapids and other Linn County communities alone.
Grants in the past from the Community Foundation have assisted Trees Forever in a number of ways. They have received organizational development funds to upgrade the Trees Forever website. They also maintain several funds, including memorial and endowment funds at the Community Foundation.
Recently, a grant from the Program Fund at the Community Foundation, along with support from the Diamond V Donor-Advised Fund, has supported Trees Forever’s TreeKeepers program. “The TreeKeepers program is a training and volunteer engagement effort that empowers volunteers to help plant and care for young trees and woodlands in Linn County communities,” said Trees Forever Founder and President Shannon Ramsay.
“We believe in the idea that ‘many hands make light work’ and with TreeKeepers we know that each year, more and more trees and woodlands will be cared for, maintained, and planted.”
Trees Forever TreeKeepers are trained in tree identification, tree planting, care of young trees, and woodland invasive species identification and management.
TreeKeeper graduates are expected to volunteer at least ten hours of service in the Linn County area to plant and care for trees and woodlands.
Todd Fagan, Cedar Rapids City Arborist, who is among the teachers for the TreeKeepers classes, said, “It’s great to have volunteers to help with pruning, mulching and assisting in multiple ways with our public trees – whether in parks, along streets, or with public buildings. We appreciate the help.”
According to Ramsay, the program has been very successful thus far. “We have trained 88 people in the Corridor since it was launched just two and a half years ago.”
Community Foundation Program Officer Elizabeth Cwik said it’s exciting to be a supporter of such environmental efforts that impact the greater community. “A vibrant community results in large part from the strength of its civic, cultural and environmental amenities,” she said. “The Foundation combines funds designated for environmental efforts with funds held in the general endowment to enhance the rich natural assets that we all may benefit and learn from.”