One of the most important things we can do as a community to reduce the carbon emissions contributing to global climate change is to plant and maintain healthy trees. A pillar of the City of San Diego’s Climate Action Plan is to increase the size of our urban forest canopy, which naturally draws carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while providing street-cooling shade. The Balboa Park Conservancy is proud to partner with the city and a number of local and state organizations in these efforts, including Tree San Diego.

Tree San Diego is active on a number of fronts to support the quantity and quality of the urban forest in San Diego County, estimated to be 60–70 percent below what it should be for the health of both humans and the environment. One of Tree San Diego’s primary objectives is to educate people, including children, in becoming tree stewards. Tree San Diego’s Young Tree Stewards program is a model effort in developing tomorrow’s tree tenders to ensure future sustainability of our urban forest.

The Young Tree Stewards will be back in action in Balboa Park on Monday, November 6, near the corner of Park Boulevard and Morley Drive, and you can help! It will be a day of hands-on field training for fifth graders from Porter Elementary School in San Diego’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. Supplemented by a classroom educational module, the students will be trained in the benefits of trees to human and environmental health, how some benefits are tracked and calculated using state-of-the-art mapping and computational technology, and how to properly water trees in our region’s climate, including watering newly planted trees and mature trees. Upon completion, Tree San Diego will award each student a “Tree Steward” certificate, qualifying them as competent in Basic Tree Watering Skills from the San Diego Regional Tree Steward Program. Based on the experience of a similar project in Balboa Park last March, the certification workshop is expected to be highly appreciated by the students and their teachers.

With four fifth-grade classes of about 37 students each at Porter Elementary, the Balboa Park training will engage almost 150 students. Tree San Diego is looking for volunteers to assist with set-up (7am–10am), monitoring during the event (9:30am–2pm); and/or tear-down (2–3:30 pm). Your time will be rewarded with an enjoyable and meaningful experience that fosters youth development and helps initiate a corps of stewards equipped to support the park’s trees for years to come. If you would like to volunteer, please contact Rachele Melious of Tree San Diego at mrgtrees@aol.com or (858) 354-4158. Any help will be much appreciated!

This project is funded by the Outdoor Foundation, San Diego Foundation, and individual contributors from the Balboa Park Conservancy and Tree San Diego, and supported by the City’s Park and Recreation Department and One San Diego.