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Emily Peden
Read about Emily’s journey from LEAF summer student to forestry professional.

When I first started my undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto five years ago, I was unsure of what I saw myself doing in the future. What I did know was I had always loved spending time outdoors and was passionate about protecting our planet- especially our trees! So, I decided to take a course offered by the Faculty of Forestry and since that very first course, I knew I had found the field I wanted to be in for the rest of my life.

© 2017 Brenna Anstett / LEAF

The first tree I planted in our Backyard Tree Planting Program- a beautiful Paper Birch!


I first learned about LEAF through University of Toronto and began working as a Community Outreach Assistant at LEAF last June. Over the summer, I assisted with a number of projects, including the Bloordale and Danforth Adopt-A-Street-Tree Projects, worked with our Executive Director, Janet McKay, on green infrastructure projects and helped with our Backyard Tree Planting Program.

© 2016 Truc-Lam Tran / LEAF

Montanna (left), one of LEAF’s planters, and I at the Danforth Adopt-A-Street-Tree Launch in July 2016.

I am now a Program Assistant at LEAF and help support our outreach programs and Backyard Tree Planting Program. I am also planting this spring season and have learned a lot about native tree and shrub species from my planting partner, LEAF’s Field Operations Coordinator, Brenna Ansett!

©2017 Brenna Anstett / LEAF

Brenna (left) and I in front of some Snowberry shrubs ready to be planted this spring season!


Through my studies and work at LEAF, I have discovered that there are so many other individuals who love trees just as much as I do! This inspires me to keep working towards the protection and growth of our urban forest across the GTA.

©2017 Brenna Anstett / LEAF

Labelling shrubs for our spring planting season!


In September, I am excited to be continuing my studies in Forestry in the Masters of Forest Conservation program at the University of Toronto. I hope to use what I learn in the program and my experience at LEAF to work towards becoming a Registered Professional Forester.  


Photos were taken by Brenna Ansett and Truc-Lam Tran. 

The Urban Forest Champions blog series highlights some of our volunteers and program participants who play a crucial role in helping us improve the urban forest. Check out our other Urban Forest Champions on our blog or sign up for our free e-newsletter to read them first!


Emily Peden is LEAF’s Program Assistant.


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