Young Urban Forest Leaders

Training Tomorrow's Urban Forest Leaders

©2017 Erin MacDonald / LEAF

The Young Urban Forest Leaders Program is designed to provide hands-on experience in the field of urban forestry and community engagement to young women and non-binary people. 

According to research published by the Journal of Arboriculture, there is a low representation of women in the industry (approx. 10%). This program aims to shift that. This program will provide participants with tangible skills in arboriculture, community organizing, and public outreach. The Young Urban Forest Leaders will receive support and mentorship from LEAF staff, as well as guest lectures from other female urban forest leaders and experts. 

After receiving 15 hours of formal arboriculture training and additional project-specific workshops, participants will work together in teams of five to support the creation of an Adopt-A-Park-Tree program in a local park. This includes creating an inventory of existing trees, developing a park stewardship plan, and planning a public event including a guided tree tour.

Using the Adopt-a-Park-Tree Manual, developed by LEAF and Park People, participants will work closely with the local community to build capacity for ongoing protection and care of trees in the park. This unique, five-month training and mentorship program will not only benefit the participants but also supports new Adopt-a-Park-Tree initiatives in Toronto.

Applications for our 2018 Young Urban Forest Leaders Program are now open!

Please submit an application by Sunday April 1st, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. 

To download a printable information page about the Young Urban Forest Leaders Program, click here.

Information Session

Join us March 5th, 2018 at 6:30pm to learn how you can apply to become a Young Urban Forest Leader! For more information, click here.

Past Young Urban Forest Leaders Initiatives

©2017 Anthony Polimeni / LEAF
Five of LEAF's Young Urban Forest Leaders worked with the Friends of Berczy Park to start an Adopt-a-Park-Tree program after the park's official re-opening in the spring of 2017!

The park was fully renovated in 2015 and 2016. Several mature trees were removed and 41 new trees have been planted. the Friends of Berczy Park, with the support of the Young Urban Forest Leaders, are taking action to nurture these young trees to survive the vulnerable first years of life and to recreate the cherished tree canopy in this busy urban park.

©2017 Alan Li / LEAF

Four of LEAF’s Young Urban Forest Leaders worked with the P.I.N.E Project to provide an estimated 90 new trees that are anticipated for planting this fall along the beautiful Humber River edge with some TLC.

The P.I.N.E Project delivers wilderness programs in Etienne Brule and King’s Mill parks nearly year-round, running a community outdoor school with approximately 250 participants and several summer programs that serve approximately 700 participants. Their programs connect children with the natural world through outdoor programming in all weather, teaching them about their natural surroundings and developing bushcraft skills. The Young Urban Forest Leaders will trains staff and participants on how to care for newly planted park to ensure they thrive.

©2017 Olga Eizhvertina/LEAF

Four of LEAF’s Young Urban Forest Leaders worked with the Friends of Stephenson Park to help kickstart a new tree stewardship project that will support the establishment of about 30 newly planted trees. 

Stephenson Park is loved and well-used by the local community, with a busy splash pool and baseball diamond. In 2016, many of the trees suffered in the extreme drought. The Young Urban Forest Leaders are working to help raise awareness of the importance of our trees and increase the community's commitment to care for them.

©2016 Erin MacDonald / LEAF

This year, three of LEAF’s Young Urban Forest Leaders are working with the Friends of Chester Le Park and Agincourt Community Services Association to develop an Adopt-a-Park-Tree program in Chester Le Park for over 40 new trees planted in 2014. 

Chester Le Park features a children playground, a large open green space and beautiful trees on the edges of the park as well as a vibrant community garden. 

©2016 Torie Gervais / LEAF

This year, five of LEAF’s Young Urban Forest Leaders are working with the Friends of Christie Pits Park to develop an Adopt-a-Park-Tree program. The park currently has over 20 young trees and in the fall of 2016, 76 new trees will be planted by the City to replace the loss of many mature ash trees due to Emerald Ash Borer. 

The Friends of Christie Pits have been active for more than ten years, hosting community pizza nights, park clean ups, walking tours and many festivals and musical events.

©2016 Tooba Shakeel / LEAF

This year, four of LEAF’s Young Urban Forest Leaders are working with the TRCA to develop an Adopt-a--Tree program on the newly revitalized grounds of the San Romanoway towers at Jane and Finch.    

As part of the San Romanoway Towers Revival Project, the property has new gardens, a naturalized site and an urban orchard along with nearly 40 newly planted trees. 

©2015 David Slaughter / LEAF

In 2015, four of LEAF’s Young Urban Forest Leaders worked with the Beach Hill Neighbourhood Association Tree Team to develop an Adopt-a-Park-Tree program in Fairmount Park.

The Beach Hill Neighbourhood Association Tree Team came together in March 2013. Since then, the Tree Team has met at least once a month to plan events that engage and educate Beach Hill residents. Projects have included developing tree care handouts, distributing free mulch for residents' trees and creating an urban forest management plan with help from University of Toronto students.

©2015 David Slaughter / LEAF

In 2015, four of LEAF’s Young Urban Forest Leaders worked with Friends of Regent Park and Cabbagetown ReLeaf to develop an Adopt-a-Park-Tree program in Regent Park.

Friends of Regent Park, established in August 2014, is a group of local residents and other stakeholders who are interested in the prosperity, benefits and use of the new community park and other green spaces in Regent Park. Their goal is to animate the space and advocate for: sustainability and preservation; positive food security, increased health and wellness; inclusivity; share and play opportunities; and, the utilization of new technologies.

The group is currently being incubated at CRC and has taken on events such as Regent Park’s first WinterFest, the official launch the community bake oven during their summer Party in the Park event, helping out with the Taste of Regent Park event and hosting this year’s Sunday in the Park.

Cabbagetown ReLEAF is a non-profit, volunteer driven organization working in the communities of Cabbagetown, Regent Park and St. James Town. Their mission is to promote a larger, healthier urban forest as part of our green infrastructure through community planting, tree protection, tree care, education, and advocacy.

Become a Young Urban Forest Leader

©2017 Anthony Polimeni / LEAF

Become a Young Urban Forest Leader!

Applications for the 2018 program are now open. Please submit this applicaiton by Sunday April 1st, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. 

The goal of the program is to provide hands-on experience in the field of urban forestry and community engagement. Successful applicants will receive formal training and mentorship to develop the skills needed to lead a community tree tour and tree mulching event, and will help to establish Adopt-A-Park-Tree projects in select Toronto parks.

Activities include:

  • Completing LEAF’s Tree Tenders Volunteer Tree Training Program – 15 hours of arboriculture training led by local professionals. The session is held in early May. Exact dates and times will be posted shortly. 
  • Attending skill-building workshops and mentored activities focusing on arboriculture and community engagement. Meetings occur weekly starting in May though September on Thursday evenings from 6:00 - 8:30 p.m. 
  • In teams, planning and launching an Adopt-A-Park-Tree program, tree tour and mulching event in a Toronto park working with local stakeholders such as Friends of park groups
  • Participating in peer-feedback and career-planning sessions

Benefit to Participants:

  • Hands-on skills in arboriculture, urban forestry and community engagement to prepare for employment and/or post-secondary education
    • Skills developed include: tree biology, identification, planting, mulching, understanding Toronto's tree bylaws and threats to the urban forest, leadership and team work, public speaking, event coordination, community outreach and marketing 
  • Career path research and exposure to industry professional
  • Program graduates receive a certificate and reference letter
  • Participants contribute to community-building and increased public appreciation of the urban forest
  • Transit subsidies and snacks provided at workshops
  • Up to four participants can receive childcare subsidies to cover costs while attending workshops
©2016 Erin MacDonald/LEAF

Applicant Criteria

Are you interested in becoming a Young Urban Forest leader? 

Applications for the 2018 program are now open. Please submit this applicaiton by Sunday April 1st, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. 

Applicants must:

  • Identify as female or non-binary 
  • Be between the ages of 18 and 29
  • Be able to commit up to 5 hours per week between May and September. Meetings/workshops will be held on Thursday evenings at 6pm) 
  • Be available to attend LEAF’s Tree Tenders Volunteer Training in May of 2018 (15 hours over one week - exact dates and times here)
  • Have an interest in arboriculture, urban forestry and/or environmental community engagement

Priority will be given to applicants with a need to participate in a fully-funded training program.


©2017 Olga Eizhvertina / LEAF

Apply now for the 2018 YUFL Program! 

The deadline to apply is Sunday April 1st, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. Only those applicants selected for an interview will be contacted. Following interviews, successful candidates will be notified by late April 2018.

This project is funded through the City of Toronto. LEAF adopts and upholds the City of Toronto’s policy statement which prohibits discrimination and harassment and protects the right to be free of hate activity, based on age, ancestry, citizenship, creed (religion), colour, disability, ethnic origin, family status, gender identity, level of literacy, marital status, place of origin, membership in a union or staff association, political affiliation, race, receipt of public assistance, record of offences, sex, sexual orientation or any other personal characteristics by or within the organization.


Supporting Partners

     ©2017 City of Toronto