When friends and new acquaintances outside of the tree care industry hear that I am the “President of TREE Fund,” they almost always express enthusiasm for my work, although the conversation is often a little more complicated than you might expect:
Friend: Oh cool, I love trees! TREE Fund is the one that does all those tree planting events, right?
Me: No, that’s not us.
Friend: Oh, so you’re protecting the Amazon Rain Forest, right?
Me: No, not really, sorry.
Friend: Ummm . . . so you’re the organization that buys up land and puts it into trust so it stays forever wild, right?
Me: No, we don’t do that either.
And so on, and so forth, sometimes for a few more rounds. In trying to cut to the chase politely on such conversations without diminishing people’s enthusiasm for my work with trees, the phrase I’ve found that seems to most quickly make their eyes light up with recognition is when I say: “We fund science that supports the trees we live with.”
People seem to embrace “the trees we live with” quickly and intuitively: these are the trees in our backyards, our street trees, the ones our children climb, the trees that shade our schools, the formal arrangements that make our civic architecture more grand, the little glades that provide green backdrops to our developments, that killer oak along the fairway that costs us a stroke every time we slice a tee shot into it, the canopy above the cemeteries we visit on Veterans and Memorial Days, and so many others. The “trees we live with” are a part of our everyday lives and experiences.
I know, of course, that the benefits of our research and education programs reach well beyond that simple rubric, but getting people outside our industry to think actively about the myriad choices and decisions that can surround a single familiar tree over its lifetime is a great first step in helping them understand not only what TREE Fund does, but also the benefits that professional tree care anchored in rigorous science can provide.
I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t appreciate “the trees we live with.” Bringing our work home for people that way can help us open the circle to new friends and supporters, one conversation at a time.
Note: This article ran in TREE Fund’s e-Bulletin today. You can subscribe by visiting our website, here, and you could also help us out a lot by making a contribution to the 15th Anniversary Appeal, or by shopping in the TREE Fund Store. The buttons on the homepage should be intuitive in terms of how to do any or all of these things, so thanks for clicking through and following/supporting us!