RHS interns join in on local mural project!

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At the end of October, RHS interns teamed up with Alhambra High interns to continue work on an environmentally themed mural on 23rd street in Richmond. Designed by interns at John F. Kennedy High, the mural depicts both what the environment will be like if we continue business as usual (industrialized and dirty) and what the environment could look like if we stepped up as responsible stewards (community gardens, thriving nature, clean water). Interns loved working on a hands on project during their meeting and were empowered to work just a half mile from their high school. Community members walking by stopped to ask about the project and gave enthusiastic and inspiring feedback to our interns. RHS was happy to get this chance to help on such a cool and beautiful project!

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Interns plant their first trees @ Wanlass Park

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On October 21, RHS interns participated in their first tree planting event of the school year. This tree planting project at Wanlass Park in San Pablo is Richmond High’s main project of the year and is funded by RELEAF and supported by the City of San Pablo. The purpose of this project is to create an educational urban forest where the surrounding community can come enjoy nature and learn about trees and the benefits of urban forestry. The project is designed specifically to give disadvantaged communities access to green spaces in addition to accessing the environmental benefits of trees.

Last school year, RHS interns managed to plant 42 trees. This year, the group is on track to plant at least another 60! The plans for the park include a variety of species: coast live oak, blue oak, western redbud, saucer & southern magnolias, incense cedar, gingko, bay laurel, and red maple.

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For this first planting, interns focused on getting some blue oaks into the ground. Because many of the interns had never planted a tree before, we invited an experienced landscaper to come give a tree planting demonstration. Mae Clark of Plenty Landscapes volunteered her time to show the interns proper tree planting procedure and helped us get our first tree in the ground successfully! Interns learned about many important details of tree planting, including what shape and size to make the hole, how deep the tree should be planted, and how to stake and tie the tree once planted. Earth Team owes a big thank you to Mae!

After a few hours of hard work, the group was able to plant 6 trees total for the day. The ground was extremely hard and dry, so digging holes took up a good portion of the time. Interns learned that planting trees is hard work but also very rewarding! We are looking forward to many more days working with our trees!

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Joe McBride Guest Lectures for RHS Interns

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On October 19, 2017, Earth Team board member and retired UC Berkeley professor Joe McBride came into RHS’s weekly meeting to teach our interns what urban forestry is and its benefits.

Interns learned that urban forestry is the management and care of trees in urban settings with the intent of improving urban environments. There is a lot of work that goes into managing an urban forest and such management is provided by a number of sources including city and utility foresters and arborists, policymakers, city planners, and community volunteers. Tree management in cities has different challenges than out in the forests. Unique challenges include limited space for roots or canopies, poor soil quality, damage to trees by citizens, and costs of labor. These are only a few of the considerations necessary when planning and managing urban forests.

Having a well maintained urban forests has a plethora of benefits! One important benefit is the way trees can influence a more moderate micro-climate; trees provide shade/cooling of buildings and roads, absorb sunlight, cool the air, and can reduce wind speed. This can make a city more comfortable, especially considering the way climate is changing. Other environmental benefits include increased biodiversity, better air quality, and absorption of rain water (which can help with flooding issues).

Urban forests can also provide economic and social benefits. Well landscaped business districts encourage more customers and can increase employee productivity, retention, and job satisfaction. Studies have also shown that more trees correlates with less crime and increased quality of life and happiness.

After describing all the juicy details about urban forestry, Joe also introduced the interns to the proper way to plant a tree in preparation for our first tree planting event of the school year at Wanlass Park in San Pablo. The students learned a lot from Joe and were grateful to listen to his wise and knowledgeable words! A big thank you from Richmond High Interns!

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