Sammy Tangir, from Young Urban Forest Leader to Outdoor Educator

Sammy Tangir is an outdoor educator and an alumnus of the Young Urban Forest Leaders program. For Sammy, learning never stopped, and she has continued to pursue her passions, learning all she can about trees. Today, she’s a self-published author of a number of plant identification guides and an avid nature photographer, interests that were spurred on after her time as a Young Urban Forest Leader.


As she describes herself, Sammy is an all-around nature nerd, but that wasn’t always the case. After attending a LEAF tree tour in Christie Pits, she realized how strange it was that she knew so little about the trees in her neighbourhood. This sparked her passion to learn all she could about the trees. Her desire to connect with nature and other tree-loving people motivated her to apply for the Young Urban Forest Leaders (YUFL) program offered by LEAF in 2015, the very first year that the program was offered.  


Participating in the YUFL program was a stepping stone in her journey. Through the program, Sammy deepened her love and knowledge of trees and honed her leadership skills alongside other passionate young people. As a YUFL, Sammy’s skills and interests were nurtured, allowing her to pursue work where she could genuinely connect with others in the community. Working as a team, Sammy and her fellow YUFLs learned to survey trees and deliver a tree tour to engage the community in Regent Park. Meeting leaders in the field was also an enriching opportunity to explore education and career opportunities in the field of urban forestry.

Since completing the program, Sammy has followed her interests. She has surveyed hundreds of trees in downtown Toronto for Ryerson University, has been working in outdoor education and taken up an interest in organic farming. Her passion for trees has fueled her drive to learn all she can about the species in the city, having recently come across a bitternut hickory, a tree that’s not very common in Toronto. Combining her love for plants with her love to create, Sammy has published a few plant-centred works that have been widely shared and she regularly posts her photography on Instagram.


Reflecting on her experience, Sammy provided the following advice:

“I would tell other young adults to soak in the beauty of opportunities like the Young Urban Forest Leaders and to really put their energy into what work lights up their heart.“

She encourages anyone who is excited about urban forestry to deepen their connection to trees. Whether it’s by learning about them on guided walks or spending time outdoors and hugging the ones in a park, simple acts of love and curiosity can do wonders to connect you with nature.


 Lam Tran is the Education Coordinator at LEAF.

This blog is part of a series intended to highlight YUFL alumni. The blogs were written by Lam Tran, the Education Coordinator at LEAF, based on responses collected in 2020 with the purpose of sharing YUFL alumni experiences, as participants of the program and their journeys after graduating from it. Read other blogs on the Young Urban Forest Leaders program here.

The Young Urban Forest Leaders Program is supported by the City of Toronto.