Gaurav and his birthday tree

Marking milestones while planting trees

‘Tis the season as they say but in the Greenway’s case, ‘tis the season to plant trees! And plant trees we did at our annual Tree Planting Kick-Off Event this past weekend. Sponsored in part by Carter SubaruKMTT- 103.7 The Mountain and REI, it was a spectacular celebration. Ok, ok, we acknowledge the weather was not so spectacular but a cloudy sky didn’t stop more than 200 volunteers from joining us to plant native trees and shrubs at Lake Sammamish State Park in Issaquah. From the littlest planter (wearing red cowgirl boots even!) to seasoned returnees (one who exclaimed that they had been coming out to plant for 10 years), everyone had a blast digging in the dirt. I spoke with many volunteers as I made the rounds taking pictures. Some of them had come out to plant as part of their company’s commitment to giving back to the environment. Employees from both PCL Construction and Bank of America joined in to lend a hand. Some volunteers were there simply as an excuse to get outside and hang out with friends doing something fun.

One volunteer story really struck a chord with me. I spoke with a young man from Redmond. His name is Gaurav. He told me how important it was to him to plant a tree in honor of his birthday this year. His birthday is in late August so he’s been waiting to fulfill his birthday wish. When I found him, he was working in an area on his own and I could tell what pride he was taking in planting the trees. I had him pose next to a tree for a photo and we dubbed it “his birthday tree.” It was definitely a full-circle moment for him.

Over the course of the day, volunteers also got to be a part of a very special recognition ceremony. Long-time Greenway tree planting season sponsors, Carter Motors, plants one tree in the Greenway for every test drive and plants three more when a vehicle is purchased. Since 2008, Carter Subaru’s “On the Road to Carbon Neutral” program has planted an incredible 45,000 trees in the Greenway. A ceremonial tree was planted to recognize this achievement during the morning of the Kick-Off. Carter’s General Manager, Jennifer Moran, accepted the honor and special ceremonial shovel from Don Hoch, Director of Washington State Parks. With a crowd of volunteers circled around, Jen then planted the 45,000th tree! Applause and cheers erupted all around. Thank you Carter Motors for your commitment to reverse the impacts of climate change in our region.

Just prior to the Carter Motors recognition ceremony, Seattle Storm mascot, Doppler, arrived in style and helped some of the kids plant trees. Every time the Seattle Storm sinks a three-point shot, another tree will be planted in the Greenway. Go Storm!

More shout outs of appreciation go to Noah’s BagelsStarbucks and Jamba Juice for their wonderful donations of food and beverage for our volunteers.

The biggest heart hug of all though goes to our volunteers. We couldn’t restore natural areas in the Greenway without you.

Couldn’t make the Kick-Off? Don’t sweat it. There are plenty more planting events coming up this fall. They are always lots of fun and no experience is required. Planting events are excellent for individuals, families, groups, and work teams.  Additional free family-friendly tree planting events are scheduled for Saturdays and Sundays in October, November and December. Check out the schedule here.