- The Great Toronto Tree Hunt
- LEAF Learning Garden
- Let It Bee
- Maple Leaf Forever Tree
- Urban Forest Demonstration Gardens
- Urban Wood Utilization
- Young Urban Forest Leaders Program
- Youth EAB Ambassador Program
- Past Projects
Wherever the squirrel hides its nuts is sometimes the perfect place to send out your roots and thrive.
If you asked me as a child what I wanted to be or do when I grew up, I would never have imagined I would be sitting in the LEAF office. Back then my options seemed limited – doctor, teacher, lawyer… the “typical” answers. If you were adventurous, maybe an astronaut, fire fighter, or a police officer, but I was never really great at sports and would probably not have passed the physical tests anyway.
I grew up in the suburbs outside of Toronto. Nature was never really a part of my childhood; we weren’t a family of campers, fishers, hikers, or cottage-goers. Picture an endless row of identical houses lining a street with small trees and plenty of freshly mowed lawns. There was no forest or ravine to explore, no trees to climb – but it was “safe”. My parents could throw us outside during the summer and know we’d come home as soon as the sun was beginning to set.
I’ve always been a curious soul – constantly looking to learn more, to understand how everything worked. I used to take apart phones and toys when I was younger. So when I took grade nine Geography my mind was blown. The idea that it was possible to explain how mountains are formed, why we have rain and wind, how rivers are formed and reformed or how natural disasters occur – all of it amazed and fascinated me and set me off on a path to learn more. I took on a high school internship with the Friends of the Rouge Watershed and learned about collecting seeds, identifying different species of plants and learning how human actions can make a difference for the environment and eventually our overall quality of life.
Sitting on Mount Coolum in Australia
Fraser Island, Australia
I continued to follow my interest to learn more about what I could do to “save the world”. Yet, after years of schooling I felt I’d only learned one side of the story. I realized I learned how the world was falling apart, how to help restore parts of it – but everything felt reactive. I wanted to prove that businesses and the environmental sector could work in harmony to support each other.
Tree Hugging on the Niagara Escarpment
People travel – that’s a fact. On days like today, how could I deny someone from wanting to travel to sit on a warm beach, to feel the cool breeze off the ocean, or to feel the power and strength of the mountains, or enjoy the peace and tranquility of a forest? Yet each of these vacation destinations depends on the health of the surrounding ecosystem to provide the atmosphere we seek. It’s a careful balancing act between increasing tourism and decreasing human development – and this is no different in the urban environment. Although you may not find warm beaches or feel the ocean breeze in a city like Toronto, you do find yourself walking on the shaded side of the street when strolling down the sidewalk. That’s when I found out about LEAF and the importance of the urban forest.
The Arbor in Brisbane, Australia
Mooloolaba, Sunshine Coast, Australia
So here I am, a true blue suburbanite sitting in the LEAF office and I can feel that this nut was planted here for a reason – to allow me to spread my roots and grow.
Jillaine Yee is LEAF’s new Communications and Fundraising Coordinator.