How small clubs make a big impact – with trees

Rotarians in Tempe plant 124 trees in one day. Photo by Shawna Wolf Photography

By Laura Higgs, chair-elect of the Satellite Club of Camelback Crossroads, 2004-05 Rotary Youth Exchange Student

Our club in Phoenix, Arizona, is a small one. We have about 25 members total, between our morning and evening segments. While cacti typically cover the arid landscape, tree shade in parks is an important aspect of community development in Arizona, and we knew planting one tree per Rotarian was one of RI President Ian Riseley’s goals for the Rotary year.

Photo by Shawna Wolf Photography

When we spoke with our city government officials, they were excited about the opportunity to collaborate and pool resources and expertise. We jumped on the chance, and five months of planning and multiple committee meetings later, we accomplished the almost impossible. Rotarians in Tempe planted 124 trees in one day, with the help of Camelback Crossroads Satellite, Tempe Rio Salado, and with money from a Tempe trust from a former Tempe Downtown Rotarian.

We made sure to check the following:

  • Did we ensure sustainability? Would the trees be taken care of after we left? The City had a tree expert decide on the most Arizona-friendly trees, and installed irrigation in the park for each tree; a project they already accounted for.
  • Would we have enough tools? We used a local community Tool Bank to rent. It was really important to get enough shovels and especially pole pounders.
  • How would we ensure we had enough volunteers? We used SignUp Genius and visited other clubs to enlist help, as well as involving our Rotaract community.
  • Did the community hear about the project? The City of Tempe agreed to send out an announcement to the neighborhood inviting them to the project, and many showed up!

Our sponsors made a big difference in the quality of the event, and we had a fantastic point person who works in environmental sustainability, Rotarian Tara Haviland, to pull it all off.

Our three biggest tips are: Collaborate, plan ahead, and announce your event widely! Watch this video by Shawna Wolf Photography if you’d like to see how the day went!

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