Young Urban Forest Leaders
Training Tomorrow's Urban Forest Leaders
The Young Urban Forest Leaders (YUFL) Program is a free training and mentorship program designed to provide hands-on experience in the field of arboriculture, urban forestry and community engagement. The program also seeks to support youth from underrepresented groups within arboriculture and urban forestry including (but not limited to) women, non-binary people, Indigenous peoples, newcomers, LGBTQ+ persons and visible minorities.
This five-month program will provide participants with tangible skills, mentorship from LEAF staff, as well as guest lectures and networking opportunities with urban forest leaders and experts.
This innovative and enriching program feeds two birds with one seed. The youth gain hands-on skills in arboriculture and urban forestry and, in turn, they support local community groups to help improve the tree canopy in their neighbourhood. This includes assessing the existing tree canopy in the community, developing a tree stewardship plan (including possible new Adopt-a-Park-Tree and Adopt-a-Street-Tree projects), planning public events that engage and educate local residents (including a guided tree tour) and helping to get more trees planted to grow the local canopy.
With LEAF’s guidance, the YUFL participants will work closely with local communities to build capacity for ongoing protection and care of trees on public and private lands.
Young Urban Forest Leaders Initiatives
A team of six Young Urban Forest Leaders collaborated with local community groups to help green the Bloordale and Brockton neighbourhoods. The Bloordale Community Improvement Association and the Botanicus Art Ensemble came together with the YUFL team to spark awareness and engage neighbours in improving the local urban forest.
The goals were to help local residents:
Plant more native trees through planting incentives for Bloordale and Brockton property owners
Learn about Backyard Biodiversity and how planting native can help urban wildlife through habitat creation
Provide care to existing trees through stewardship initiatives, like the Adopt-a-Tree program.
The Bloordale Community Improvement Association and the Bloordale BIA initiated the Bloordale Adopt-a-Street-Tree project in 2016. Since then, the 50 newly planted trees between Dufferin and Lansdowne have been cared for by local businesses and residents so that each tree thrives.
The Botanicus Art Ensemble is a community arts organization based out of the MacGregor Playground Park. They bring professional artists and gardeners together with community members with the goal of fostering creative expression and the exchange of ideas. They also seek to enhance the enjoyment of public spaces and the connection with nature in the urban environment.
A team of six Young Urban Forest Leaders supported The Pocket Community Association in efforts to revitalize engagement in environmental initiatives in the neighbourhood.
The goals were to help local residents:
- Plant more native trees through planting incentives for Pocket property owners
- Learn about Backyard Biodiversity and how planting native can help urban wildlife through habitat creation
- Provide care to existing trees through stewardship initiatives
The Pocket community is tucked between the Greenwood TTC yard and CN train tracks. A key feature and the heart of the neighbourhood is Phin Park, a small park that is a favourite hub for families in the area.
The Pocket Community Association has been active for over 12 years. During its time, the association has undertaken various projects to engage with residents and green the community. Most notably,100 front yard trees and 35 park trees were planted as part of The Pocket Tree Project a few years ago. The YUFL Program will re-energize interest in planting and caring for native trees and shrubs to promote biodiverse spaces for urban wildlife!
Five of our Young Urban Forest Leaders are supporting the Friends of Centennial Park to establish a new Adopt-a-Park-Tree project.
Centennial Park is one of Toronto’s busiest parks and is the second largest in the City at 525 acres. In 2014, approximately 450 trees were removed from the park due to Emerald Ash Borer.
Friends of Centennial Park, in partnership with Our Place Initiative, works with the local community, advocating for improvements to the park to increase everyone's enjoyment of this wonderful space. They have been working on tree planting initiatives to help increase the tree canopy, and now, the Friends of Centennial Park are developing an Adopt-a-Park-Tree project that will foster stewardship for years to come.
Five of our Young Urban Forest Leaders are supporting the Friends of Guild Park to establish a new Adopt-a-Park-Tree project.
Guild Park is 36 hectares, located on the geologically significant landform of the Scarborough Bluffs. It’s located within the transition life zone between the Southern and Great Lake-St. Lawrence Forest systems, characterized by both the coniferous trees of the northern Boreal forest mixed with deciduous trees.
Since 2013, the Friends of Guild Park have been working to increase the awareness and appreciation of Guild Park & Gardens as a spectacular and sustainable public destination, where art meets nature. The park was formerly the site of an artist colony and is notable for its collection of relics, saved from the demolition of buildings primarily in downtown Toronto, arranged akin to ancient ruins.
Trinity Bellwoods Park
Nestled in the heart of downtown Toronto, this popular park was the first in the city to launch an Adopt-a-Park-Tree program in 2006.
However, with 90 new trees and changes in program coordination, the Friends of Trinity Bellwoods was seeking support to revitalize their Adopt-a-Park-Tree program. This year, five of our Young Urban Forest Leaders are helping the Friends of Trinity Bellwoods incorporate the new trees into the long-standing Adopt-a-Park-Tree program.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Become a Young Urban Forest Leader!
The goal of the program is to provide hands-on experience in the field of arboriculture, urban forestry and community engagement. Successful applicants will receive formal training and mentorship to develop the skills needed to lead a community tree tour, host tree care events and help a community increase its local tree canopy.
- Completing LEAF’s Tree Tenders Volunteer Tree Training Program – 15 hours of arboriculture training led by local professionals. The session is held in late April/early May. Each of the four classes are mandatory.
- Attending skill-building workshops and mentored-activities focusing on arboriculture and community engagement. Meetings occur weekly on Tuesdays evenings from late April to mid September.
- In teams, working closely with a Toronto community group to improve their tree canopy. This includes assessing the existing canopy, identifying opportunities for tree planting and tree stewardship and holding community events that engage local residents, all with guidance from LEAF. Events include:
- Outreach activities
- Educational workshops
- Tree care events
- Tree tours
- Tree planting workshops
- Participating in peer-feedback and career-planning sessions
The 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 teamwork, public speaking, event coordination, community outreach and marketing
- Exposure to industry professionals and career path research
- 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
Are you interested in becoming a Young Urban Forest leader? lf you would like to be notified when applications open for future programs, please let us know here.
- Be between the ages of 18 and 29
- Be able to commit up to 5 hours per week. Meetings occur weekly on Tuesdays evenings from late April to mid-September.
- Be available to attend LEAF’s Tree Tenders Training (15 hours from late April to early May, three evening and one weekend sessions)
- Have an interest in arboriculture, urban forestry and/or environmental community engagement
Priority will be given to applicants from underrepresented groups within arboriculture and urban forestry with a need to participate in a fully-funded training program.