As the Young Urban Forest Leaders program wraps up its 7th year, LEAF celebrates over 110 underrepresented youth graduates!

Toronto, Ontario – August marked the end of the Young Urban Forest Leaders (YUFL) program, a free 4-month training and mentorship program run by local non-profit organization, LEAF (Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests). Since launching in 2015, the goal of the program has been to support historically overlooked and underrepresented youth (ages 18 – 29 years old) in Toronto by providing valuable skill-building experience in the fields of arboriculture and urban forestry. With its seventh year ending, LEAF celebrates the more than 110 combined graduates. 

One way the YUFL program provides mentorship and professional development is through the "Fireside Chat", which was hosted on Tuesday, August 30th. The annual event brings the youth participants into an intimate and inspiring conversation with a diversity of industry professionals. This year the guest speakers included an International Society of Arboriculture certified Consulting Arborist, a Senior Landscape Architect and Planner and a Program Manager from a non-governmental organization. YUFL participants gained guidance and confidence in navigating their own professional growth. The guest speakers, who generously share their time and wisdom, empowered the next wave of environmental champions. Many YUFL graduates have pursued employment or further studies within urban forestry and cite the impacts the “Fireside Chat” had on their professional journey. 

The YUFL program is designed to extend its impact into Toronto communities through the efforts of the YUFL participants. By hosting community events, YUFL participants have connected with almost 1,500 community members about the importance of the urban forest. The YUFL program further enhances the urban forest by distributing native shrubs to Toronto residents to build the urban forest’s resiliency. To date, over 1,700 have been distributed. 

The YUFL program receives funding from a City of Toronto Community Planting and Stewardship Grant and the Canadian TREE Fund. LEAF is excited to continue offering this innovative program to Toronto youth in 2023. Learn more about the YUFL program, visit the LEAF website or call 416-413-9244 for more information.


"It was so encouraging to hear about the panelists’ experiences and advice on the most useful characteristics for career advancement, how to avoid burnout, and how hard work and being authentic can take you quite far. What a privilege to be able to speak with such an impressive panel of women! It was inspiring to hear about the many possibilities open to new environmental professionals."
-    Katrina Gaibisels, 2022 YUFL Graduate

“Having graduated from the YUFL program in 2016, it's an honour to be in a position where I can empower other underrepresented youth who go through the program. The Fireside Chat is meaningful because participants can connect with professionals in the field and be inspired to chart their next steps, much like I was.”
-    Lam Tran, LEAF Education Coordinator, I.S.A. Certified Arborist

“I have been a frequent participant with the Fireside Chat as a part of the YUFL program since 2018. It is as exciting for me as a presenter to have the opportunity to inspire and to mentor youth who are interested in the many facets of urban forestry, specifically arboriculture. As a woman of colour, the highlight for me at these Fireside Chats is to connect with the diversity of people who have gone through the YUFL program.”
-    Wenda Li, I.S.A. Certified Arborist

“We are proud to have invested in the YUFL program since 2017. Engaging diverse youth from across Toronto in gaining meaningful training and mentorship opportunities in urban forestry and arboriculture is critical to building the community capacity needed to sustain and grow our urban forest.”
-    Amory Ngan, Urban Forestry Coordinator, City of Toronto 

“The YUFL program is the epitome of the Canadian TREE Fund’s mission of increasing arboriculture and urban forestry education in Canada. We are thrilled to be a supporter of LEAF’s programming and their involvement with early-career professionals in our industry. The public imperative for strengthening urban forests in Canada is enhanced through LEAF and the YUFL program, fostering the future of our nation’s urban foresters and arborists to the betterment of trees everywhere.”
-    Alexander Martin, Co-Chair, Canadian TREE Fund


LEAF (Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the protection and improvement of the urban forest. Beginning in 1996, LEAF has been delivering successful planting and stewardship programs that engage citizens. LEAF envisions healthy, vibrant communities where everyone values and cares for the urban forest.

The City of Toronto's Urban Forestry Branch is home to one of the largest urban forestry programs in Canada. It is responsible for the management, growth and stewardship of Toronto's urban forest through maintenance, planting, protection and planning. Toronto's urban forest comprises more than 11.5 million trees and is valued at $7.04 billion. 

The Canadian TREE Fund is a registered charitable organization that was established in 1995, in affiliation with the Ontario Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture, to promote and help fund arboricultural research in Canada. Their mission is to identify significant environmental, biological, social and economic needs related to tree genetics, management and care and provide funding for innovative basic/applied research and education.

Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests (LEAF):
Brian Millward, Community Programs Manager
(416) 413-9244 or  

City of Toronto

Canadian TREE Fund