Trees Matter Blog


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  • Tue, September 10, 2019 4:18 PM | Aimee Esposito (Administrator)

    Event Sponsor Highlight: West Coast Arborists, Inc.

    We are so excited to showcase West Coast Arborists Inc., a business that touches many trees here in the Valley and is also an event sponsor for our annual Mesquite Pancake Breakfast for Dinner. We wanted to ask them a few questions so you could learn more about what they do and why they support our work...

    Can you tell us about West Coast Arborists? 

    "West Coast Arborists, Inc. (WCA, Inc.) is a family-owned andoperated union company employing nearly 900 full-time employees. WCA has been providing tree maintenance and management services since 1972 and we proudly serve over 250 municipalities and public agencies each year. We provide superior and safe tree care operations seven days a week, 24 hours a day throughout Arizona and California. Tailored pruning, precise removals and proper planting techniques have laid the foundation for WCA, Inc's gold standard work practices. ISA Certified staff are on every crew to ensure our customers are receiving professional tree care from industry experts."

    What got you involved with Trees Matter?

    "We are passionate about the urban forest and serving the communities we work in. At WCA we believe in planting the righttree in the right place. In order to do this, we must be actively involved in the effort to increase the tree canopy in the Valley. By partnering with Trees Matter, we can educate the general public about proper tree care, tree planting and the benefits of trees. We hope to encourage current and future generations to advocate for trees and the importance of urban forests."

    Why do Trees Matter to you? 
    "We see trees as an important part of the community and essential to our life on earth. Investing in our trees, parks and urban forest not only improves neighborhoods with shade and health benefits but also reduces pollution. At WCA we handle all types of tree services including planting, pruning and removal. Our goal is to replant two trees for every tree that we remove to maintain a healthy urban forest. Since a number of trees require removal, it is important to create an environmentally sound an
    d socially responsible alternative to importing lumber from other areas and to reduce the demand of trees from natural forests.  Our wood recycling program, Street Tree Revival, has become an important approach to urban forest management. WCA, Inc. has expanded our efforts to help reduce our carbon footprint and now provides all of our suitable logs and slabs to our Street Tree Revival program. We are diverting thousands of logs annually from landfills and successfully capturing and sequestering wood carbon."

  • Thu, November 15, 2018 10:49 PM | Ariel Stone (Administrator)

    It's the season to be thankful! Trees Matter would like to highlight a few of our amazing volunteers. Our events and programs are volunteer-powered, and we truly could not do everything we do without their help. We have over 300 volunteers total, annually. Over one-third of those volunteers are recurring, some of whom are highlighted in this post. Below are kind words and thoughts from some of our recurring volunteers: 

    “Hi, my name is Deborah (Deb) Coy.  I have been volunteering with Trees Matter for about six years. I started out looking for an opportunity to use my Master Gardener skills, but I also found a home with an organization that really cares.  Every event allows me to interact with new and old faces wanting to make a difference in our community.  The camaraderie working with all the volunteers at the event and helping residents select the right trees for them, brings me back time and time again.  I get to see the hard work to set up and complete each event.  At the end, you go home tired and happy knowing so many people want to make a change with something as simple as planting a tree.  I am honored to be associated with such a great organization. If I have not met you yet, I will see you at the next event.”- Deborah Coy

    “I enjoy volunteering with Trees Matter because I’m surrounded by people that care about nature. I learn something new from the diverse set of volunteers at each event. I care about this organization for the sustainable effects that sprout from their mission, which is to inspire and promote an increased tree canopy in the valley. The concrete jungles of the Phoenix metro area benefit from an increased tree canopy by providing more shade, mitigating Urban Heat Island effect, and sequestering more carbon dioxide. When I volunteer with Trees Matter, I feel I’m helping to accomplish my own sustainable goals as well as theirs.”- Jeremy Seidner

    “I wanted to be an active volunteer in the community, and it was important to me to be a part of an organization that focuses on the environment. I am glad I chose Trees Matter. I enjoy the interaction with the friendly, out-going volunteers and caring staff members. Volunteering for Trees Matter is rewarding and healing. There are so many reasons to appreciate trees!”- Moulikah Jordan

    “I enjoy volunteering at Trees Matter because it gives me a chance to be useful and be able to give back to the community.  I love being helpful, and meeting new people is an added benefit as well. The volunteering brings different types of people together who I learn from. I get the chance to develop my skills and knowledge, and makes me feel accomplished. Learning more about trees has been interesting to me as well!”- Jackie Nolan

    “I love what Trees Matter does for the community, promoting ideas and values that enrich peoples’ lives and helping grow a healthier and happier planet. It’s awesome being a part of the events, and watching the excitement of people learning new things about trees. The staff and other volunteers are always so fun to work with. You can tell everyone there is passionate about helping or sharing their knowledge with others.”- Jason Coghill

    If you are interested in volunteering with Trees Matter, we’d love to have you join our family! To get started, visit

  • Tue, September 18, 2018 1:51 PM | Ariel Stone (Administrator)

    As our organization continues to grow, we continue to add more remarkable people to our Trees Matter family. This past month we have had a number of new faces join our team, and we would like to share in more detail with our community who they are, and the resources and knowledge they provide to our organization. We hope you enjoy learning about each person’s unique background, and please help us welcome them into our community!

    E.J. Cochrum, Board Member

    E.J. grew up in Conchas Dam, New Mexico which is a small town of about 200 people located in the Northeastern part of the state.  Growing up his family called him Jamie, however, in first grade a new student moved into town also named Jamie. His teacher decided to call him E. J. so that she would not get them confused. Ever since then he has been known by that name! He enjoys all things outdoors, especially going camping with his family. He also enjoys gardening and caring for plants and trees. He feels that one of the best things about gardening in Arizona is that you are able to do it year round. Having said that, gardening in 115 degrees can have its challenges! 

    E.J. currently works in the vegetation management department as a utility forester for SRP. His job is to ensure that vegetation is kept clear of all SRP’s distribution and transmission power lines.  Prior to working for SRP he held the position of urban forester for the City of Denton, Texas. He has also held the position as a contact forester and a divisional forester for PNM Resources.  

    He is currently a member of the Arizona Community Tree Council and a past board member of the Cross Timber Urban Forestry Council. He has a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Biology from NMSU. He also holds the credentials of a certified arborist and a certified utility specialist. 

    One of his favorite trees is the Vitex agnus-castus, or the Chaste tree.  It is a wonderful drought-tolerant tree that thrives in the Valley, and also produces amazing purple flowers that continue flowering in the Phoenix heat. E.J. looks forward to being involved in Trees Matter and is excited to work with people who are just as passionate as he is to increase the tree canopy in the Valley!

    Paulina Vu, Program Manager

    Paulina was born in Arizona, and recently graduated with a concurrent degree in Sustainability and Global Studies. Her interest in sustainability in a local and global stage has led her to various projects, volunteering, and internships with organizations such as the Gaia Association, The International Rescue Committee, and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. Paulina is passionate about community engagement, and is excited to work towards a healthier, happier Phoenix. While at ASU, she was an intern for Trees Matter and is thrilled to join the team once again! She has always been in awe of nature and loves to hike, take photos, travel, and play board games in her free time. Her favorite tree is the Hong Kong Orchid. 

    Kenny Tjong, Fall 2018 Events Intern

    Kenny was born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia. He came to Arizona to pursue his bachelor’s degree and is currently in his last semester at ASU, studying Interdisciplinary Studies with concentrations in Engineering Management and Mathematics. Apart from English and his native Indonesian, he can also speak Mandarin Chinese and is learning Korean. He likes cooking as a hobby because it’s fun and creative. During his time in the Valley, he has quickly realized that tree canopy is very much needed here to counter the heat. He sees the importance of trees and how they can positively impact the world, which brought him to Trees Matter. His future goal is to create his own company that runs on zero waste. He looks forward to learning about everything from event planning and nonprofits, to edible trees he can incorporate into his cooking! 

    Randallyn, Fall 2018 Events Intern

    Randallyn is a senior at ASU and will be graduating in the spring with a bachelor's degree in Communication. She was born and raised in Southern California, and decided to come to Arizona for the warmer weather. Something that stood out to her was the lack of trees throughout the Valley and is glad to work with an organization that will help with that! Upon graduation, she hopes to move back home to work with non-profits there. She's excited to join Trees Matter and learn about non-profits from a hands-on perspective and to apply what she's learned as a communication major to various events and projects! In her free time, she enjoys going to concerts, learning about health and wellness, trying new food places, cooking, baking, and anything food-related. She's especially excited to learn about the edible trees of the Valley! Randallyn's favorite tree is the California fan palm, as it reminds her of home! 

    Ronnie Pedersen, Fall 2018 Events Intern

    Ronnie Pedersen was born and raised in Glendale, Arizona and is currently a sophomore at ASU, pursuing a degree in Sustainability and Business Entrepreneurship and working towards a certificate in International Business. Previously, Ronnie worked as a residential Vice President for Barrett, The Honors College at ASU, Vice President of the Barrett Sustainability Club, and also served as the entertainment chair for the NACURH 2018 International Leadership Conference. In his free time, Ronnie enjoys rock climbing and hiking with friends, or playing volleyball with his intramural team at ASU. His interest in combining Sustainability and business drives his dream to implement the efficiency of 1st world waste management into 3rd world countries with the goal of increasing economic prosperity, public health, and environmental protection within the selected communities. He hopes his internship at Trees Matter will give him experience with non-profits and implementation of sustainable solutions into large communities. He is excited to create impactful change in the Valley through an increased tree canopy. Ronnie loves the Palo Verde tree for its beauty and wonderful scent!

  • Mon, December 11, 2017 5:46 AM | Aimee Esposito (Administrator)

    Written by: Billy Bee, Trees Matter Blog Writer

    Recently, Trees Matter came across an interesting program that aims to help a Phoenix neighborhood plant trees. This effort, called the Coronado Community Tree Campaign, is run by a man named Tom Wright who was interviewed by Trees Matter for this blog post.

    Tom Wright received a degree in Urban Horticulture from ASU in 1997 and is a Certified Arborist. He works in the landscaping industry including operating his business for over two decades. His enthusiasm for trees and the Coronado Neighborhood is immediately apparent when meeting him and as strong as his vise-like handshake. The story of the Coronado Community Tree Campaign is a simple, yet, elegant one.

    Between 2007 and 2009 the Coronado Neighborhood Association, which Tom was a member of, received grant money to plant street trees. The program proved successful and when it ended, members of the Coronado neighborhood wanted to continue planting trees. High retail prices for the trees and lack of coordination among individual members of the community slowed the progress of their efforts, so Tom stepped in. Tom consolidated the tree planting requests and negotiated wholesale prices for residents in the Coronado neighborhood who wanted to participate.  The tree varieties chosen were taken off the Arizona Department of Water Resources List for low water use and purchased from a family owned nursery in Phoenix, keeping processes local. Trees came in 15-gallon containers for a good head start on tree growth and were not limited to being planted along the streets.  People, therefore, planted trees throughout their yards, following one of Tom’s mottos--“Let’s just get some canopy!”

    Tom’s program works like this: trees are delivered to Tom’s house and he delivers them personally to his neighbors via his wheelbarrow, which has led to his nickname “Wheelbarrow Tom.” He also provides residents with information on tree planting and care, and in some cases, he has even planted trees for residents who were unable to do it themselves. The first year he delivered 18-30 trees and later set a goal of planting 50 trees during each Fall and Spring planting season. In Spring of 2017, he exceeded his initial seasonal goal and delivered 71 trees! Since 2009, the Coronado Community Tree Campaign has delivered nearly 600 trees and is well on its way to reaching Tom’s goal of planting 1,000 trees in the Coronado neighborhood before he’s reached age 50.

    The Coronado Community Tree Campaign has successfully built a sense ofcommunity. Over the past two seasons, people like Drew Bryck and other Coronado neighborhood members have stepped up and actively assisted by purchasing  and planting trees for others. Tom’s “one guy, a Facebook page, and a wheelbarrow” formula is really paying off. More trees, more canopy, and more community engagement.

    If you would like to find out more about this great idea and program, and especially if you would like to do something like this in your neighborhood, you can contact Tom through the Coronado Community Tree Campaign Facebook page.

  • Tue, May 16, 2017 4:54 PM | Ariel Stone (Administrator)

    By Taylor Scarpelli, Trees Matter 2017 Spring Intern

    On Saturday, April 22nd, 2017 Trees Matter participated in the March for Science rally in downtown Phoenix. With so many people interested in the same environmental topics, it was an empowering day!

    A Quick Flashback to April 22nd, 1970: A Day That Made History

    Inspired by the student anti-war movement, Senator Gaylord Nelson (Democrat) from Wisconsin and Congressman Pete McCloskey (Republican) came together to organize a day that put the needs of the environment in the media spotlight. April 22nd, falling between Spring Break and Final Exams, was selected and, thus, the first Earth Day took place. It was a day where people from all walks of life gathered to rally for legislation that protects our Earth. The marchers, and all the marchers that have come after, are responsible for pushing for environmental legislation such as the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act still enforced today.

    Now Fast Forward to April 22nd, 2017: Phoenix March for Science

    8:00am: Set Up
    10:00am: Begin to rally
    11:00am: We march

    Thousands of people that day were united through one purpose:  to fight for science. It did not matter your age, your ethnicity, or where you came from. All that mattered was that you believed in the march. One could imagine that an onlooker peering down from a nearby window could see a vision resembling a school of fish ebbing and flowing, twisting and swaying through the cityscape. Instead of the sound of the ocean, a wave of chants and hope could be heard. It was a scene the founders of Earth Day could have looked over with pride.

    12:00pm: Science Fair

    Once the march was complete, Trees Matter held a booth at the Science Fair located at Washington St and 1st Ave. We were overwhelmed with the amount of people shuffling through the booths and were delighted to share conversations with people interested in our mission. We eagerly discussed our most recent program, The Edible Tree Series, and our SRP Shade Tree Workshops.

    To encourage the act of slowing down to observe what’s around you (and say thank you), Trees Matter created a Tree Scavenger Hunt for the marchers. The hunt required participants to solve riddles in order to locate eight trees we had selected around the block where the rally was held. Each tree was numbered and included a fun fact, the scientific name, and the common name. Once all the riddles were complete, participants received either a Cherry Sage or Purple Sage liner (a young plant) as a prize. The Tree Hunt was a great interactive way to get people thinking about trees and the benefits that they provide in an urban landscape.  We had a lot of fun creating it and people seemed to enjoy participating in it!

    Thank you to the many people that stopped by the Trees Matter booth that day—we walked away with 4 full pages of newsletter and volunteer sign-ups. Jeez Louise, the amount of support we felt from the community was tremendous!

    To whom we shared a laugh, sparked a conversation, or exchanged a smile: Trees Matter thanks you for your time and your support!

  • Wed, June 01, 2016 8:50 AM | Anonymous

    On Saturday, April 30th VPA held its 4th annual Mesquite Pancake Breakfast in downtown Phoenix at The Space Between Park. We partnered with Copper Star Coffee, Hickman’s, Downtown Phoenix Inc, and The Orme School to feed over 100 people homemade Mesquite pancakes and to educate over 130 people on the importance of Mesquite as part of our 2016 Edible Tree Series Events. Mesquite trees not only provide valuable shade but they have also served as a nutritious food source for native peoples and animals. Thanks to everyone who came out to our sold out breakfast and tried delicious Mesquite flour--we couldn't have made it a success without you! Below are some photos from the event and to watch a video from it, click here.

    (each stack of Mesquite pancakes was served with sides of organic egg quiche, greens & native tepary beans, country potatoes, clean chicken sausage, and coffee)

    (mesquite lovers)

    (how to make mesquite flour)

    (mesquite pods)

    If you missed the breakfast, we'd like to share the recipe for our delicious mesquite pancakes with you here, and you can still join us on June 8th, 2016 for our Mesquite Presentation and Harvest Demonstration where you will learn how to harvest, store, and use Mesquite pods.

    The Mesquite Pancake Breakfast showed how trees--and the food that they provide--can bring a community together. Thank you to all the volunteers and mesquite lovers that showed up!

    And thanks again to our food donors and event partners!

    Did you love our breakfast? Help us make next year’s breakfast even better by leaving feedback on this survey:


    Resources: (link to video) (recipe link) 

  • Tue, April 12, 2016 5:11 PM | Anonymous

    On April 9, 2016 VPA partnered with Arizona State Forestry, Arizona State University, Arizona Nursery Association, and many others to help host the second annual Tour de Trees event in the Valley. Last year’s Tour des Trees took place in North Central Phoenix and this year it was held at the Arizona State University Tempe Campus. 

    During the one-mile free self-guided bike or walk tour, participants weaved through the amazing trees and vegetation of ASU’s Tempe Campus while learning from professional arborists on 11 different topics:

    For a complete route map, click here

    Tour des Trees ran from 8:30-11:30am and participants were able to use this amazing mobile friendly app (pictured below) created by Deborah Thirkhill from ASU to help people navigate through campus, as well as view photos and information on each tree type. (Thanks, Deborah!) Up to 50 valley residents participated in the event and 35 dwarf figs tree were given away.

    VPA’s Executive Director, Aimee Williamson, said of the event, “I hope that this year’s Tour des Trees brought more awareness of the importance of trees and their maintenance and that this will be shared by people with their friends, families, and community.”

    (an arborist, in front of a Mesquite tree, teaching a participant about the importance of planting the right tree at the right place)

    Tour des Trees was a perfect example of what trees do--bring communities together while providing valuable shade on a warm Arizona Saturday morning. Thank you to all the volunteers and tree lovers that showed up!

    And thank you to our tree partners!


    Resources:  (link to route map and flyer) (link to app)


  • Thu, April 07, 2016 11:17 AM | Anonymous

    As National Arbor Day approaches--it’s Friday, April 29th--, we thought we’d give a brief run-down of how the holiday came about and the ways you can celebrate it this year.

    The very first celebration of trees--or what we now term Arbor Day--was held in a small Spanish Village in 1805. Encouraged by a local priest protesting against the destruction of the Napoleonic Wars, the community planted a popular tree in the town square. Over the next several days, dozens of other trees were planted and a movement for the defense of trees began.

    About 70 years later, the American decision to formalize the celebration of trees as a national holiday was prompted by the journalist and tree lover, Julius Sterling Morton (pictured right). While serving as a member of Nebraska’s State Board of Agriculture (and before working as President Grover’s Secretary of Agriculture), Morton proposed that a day should be dedicated to tree planting and increasing the awareness of the importance of trees. Hence, the first Arbor Day was celebrated as a state holiday in Nebraska on April 10, 1872, where an estimated one million trees were planted on that one day! In 1885, Arbor Day was named a legal holiday in Nebraska and April 22, Morton’s birthday, was chosen as the date for its permanent observance.  

    While National Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday in April (beginning in 1970), many US states observe it on different dates depending on their tree planting season. Click here to learn when each state celebrates Arbor day. Globally, over 30 countries now celebrate Arbor Day, or a form of tree appreciation day. Click here to learn when and how Arbor Day is celebrated around the world.

    How can you celebrate Arbor Day this year? One way is to celebrate early by joining us this Saturday, April 9th from 8:30-11:30am at ASU’s Tempe campus for our second annual Tour de Trees where you can visit 11 magnificent trees and learn more about tree care. You can also officially celebrate Arizona Arbor Day by coming to the AZ State Capitol Museum on Tuesday, April 26th from 10-12:00pm for an awards and planting ceremony.

    Or, you can simply plant a tree.

    Contact a local nursery or register for a workshop here where you can receive up to two free trees. Planting a tree is easier than most people think, and you’ll be able to celebrate your tree’s “birthday” each Arbor Day.

    And remember--on April 29th take a minute to enjoy the shade of a tree and appreciate why trees matter. 



  • Mon, March 28, 2016 1:43 PM | Anonymous

    Last month we wrote a blog about how trees outside a window does more than provide something nice to look at—it helps student learn better.  Now a recent study shows how even looking at pictures of trees and other green spaces make us calmer. Participants of the study were given pictures of either trees and green places or pictures of concrete and buildings after they had completed a strenuous math problem. Researchers then tested the participants’ sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The sympathetic system responds to stress by triggering the fight-or-flight reaction and raises our heart rate and makes us anxious. The second system, the parasympathetic, brings feelings of calmness and well-being.  When participants saw pictures of greenery after the math stressor, their parasympathetic system kicked-in and lowered heart rates, something that failed to happen with the group of participants who viewed pictures of concrete and manmade objects. The study suggests that viewing green spaces, such as trees, can help lower feelings of anxiety and stress and that actually visiting or seeing nature can create even greater feelings of relief and happiness. 

    Bottom line--at the very least, set your screen saver to images of trees or, if possible, scoot your desk next to a window.  Then, come get happy by joining us at the second annual Tour des Trees on Saturday, April 9th. This is a FREE (self-guided) bike and walk friendly event where we will be going around Arizona State University’s Tempe Campus and visiting 11 of their magnificent trees.  At each tree a professional arborist will be teaching an important tree topic like proper watering techniques (refer to the flyer below). You may learn a few new facts, but we guarantee that you will feel more relaxed after walking through a tree-shaded campus!

                                                                             (For a map and larger flyer to print, click here).

    Last year's Tour des Trees was a great time and we hope to see many of you again this year!


    Resources:  (original study) (map and flyer to print)

  • Sat, March 12, 2016 3:21 PM | Anonymous

    As we approach the beginning of spring, several customers have reached out to us with good news about their young Desert Willow trees.

    During the fall and winter Desert Willows undergo winter dormancy and young trees often look like a barren stick in the ground. New tree owners voice concerns that their trees are dead but we explain winter dormancy behavior and encourage them to continue caring for their trees. When consistent heat kicks in, we assure them, Desert Willows will show signs of growth such as small green buds on the tips of branches. Understandably, doubt persists as people watch a stick in the ground to continue to look like a stick in the ground for several months. This past month, however, as temperatures reached 80 and 90 degrees, Desert Willows have begun waking up! Below is a picture of a Desert Willow planted this past fall that appeared “dead” up until last week when the tree owner sent us an updated photo of new spring growth on the branches!

    Another tree owner was concerned about her newly planted Desert Willow but last week she noticed that the tree trunk had turned from an auburn-brown to a gray and bits of green buds began sprouting on the branches (pictured right--notice the two different bark colors on the left).

    It’s important to have patience with trees, especially young trees. Trees planted right when the cool weather sets in can go straight into winter dormancy for protection to conserve food supplies and, therefore, show minimal or no growth.  But, alas, when the heat hits they are ready to take off!

    If you are concerned about your tree, make sure to read our blogs on how to protect your trees during winter and how to diagnose and treat common tree issues. If your tree is exhibiting winter dormancy behavior, make sure to still properly water it and look for the following signs come spring:

    • The color of the main trunk might change from amber-brownish to a light gray as the bark matures
    • Young, small green or white buds appear on the main branches
    • Gently scrap the tree bark and look for white or green color underneath
    • Other small branches start to grow from the main trunk

    You can post any question on our ask the arborist forum where our volunteer certified arborist will provide free advice. If you have a Desert Willow (or other tree type) success story, please share it with us!


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