Our Teen Urban Tree Corps teens continue to care for Boston’s urban forest

TUTC teens, Diannie and Braniel, prepare the hydrant in order for Leo to be able to water trees.

As the summer continues, our Teen Urban Tree Corps youth have continued their watering routes. They have been watering 3 days a week, watering an average of 20 trees a day, helping these young trees survive the summer heat and drought. They are now experts not only in use of the hydrant, but also in weeding and mulching.

Our TUTC teens enjoying the view after climbing to the top of one of Harvard Forest’s research towers.

The teens have also continued to learn from field trips. They took a trip out to the Harvard Forest in Petersham, MA where Clarisse Hart, Director of Outreach & Education and Katharine Hinkle, Schoolyard Ecology Program Coordinator, provided a tour of the forest and the Fisher Museum. Youth worked in pairs to examine and share their observations of the six dioramas depicting the land use history from 1700 to 1910, from forests to farmland to forests. After learning about the land use history, youth spent the afternoon walking through the forest, examining a research plot and learning about the long term studies happening on site, climbing up a tower to get an amazing view of Massachusetts oak trees, and stopping several times along the way to identify trees, plants, and insects.

Teens also visited Spectacle Island and learned about the history of the Harbor Islands. The Park Ranger gave them a tour and shared the history of each island and their various uses over time. The teens were most excited to learn about Spectacle Island’s history as a site for trash dumping and how it has since turned into a beautiful park and great spot to visit.

TUTC teen, Eli, ready for a ride in the bucket truck for a beautiful view above Mt. Auburn Cemetery.

Later that week they visited Mt. Auburn Cemetery where Jonathan Webb, an arborist, gave them a tour of the cemetery grounds. Jonathan led the teens on a tree identification tour and educated them on the history of the cemetery and how it has developed since its establishment in 1831. The teens also had the opportunity to ride in the bucket truck, a tool used by arborists in tree maintenance and care for the tallest of trees that are inaccessible by tree climbers.

There have also been guests coming in to share their experiences with the teens about their careers and how they relate to trees. This includes Rev. Mariama White-Hammond, the City of Boston’s Chief of the Environment, Energy, and Open Spaces. She spoke about her various roles and responsibilities. Born and raised in Dorchester herself, it was great for the teens to hear her life story and how she came into such an influential role. She also spoke about the soon-to-be-released Boston Urban Forestry Plan and its goals. One of the more important takeaways was the effect of the past years’ droughts on the urban tree canopy. Teens were interested in – and scared – to hear about the potential water rationing that may occur in the future as a mitigation strategy in the face of climate change.

Claudia Paraschiv and Azia Carle describing their art installation to our TUTC teens.

Our teens were also visited by Claudia Paraschiv and Azia Carle, who came to the office to lead teens through their art installation project “Continuity in Growth”. This project has the goal of creating an intimate community space by reviving five reclaimed tree trunks and adorning them with “foliage” in the shape of the hands of local participants. This installation will also provide much needed shade to Dorchester. Our youth were able to contribute by cutting out the shape of their hands onto metal sheets. During this process they also had the chance to reflect on the project’s theme of the nature of resilience, including questions provided by the artists such as: What do we grieve as we adapt to unwelcome change? How does the promise of youth give hope and inspire action? How can we provide for what is needed with the resources at hand? How do we hold joy in the face of difficulty? Our teens loved exploring the possibilities of a career centered around trees and can’t wait to be able to visit the installation which will be displayed at Washington Street at 4 Corners.

Despite this continued exploration and growth, our youth still have a lot to look forward to as the program continues.