Continuing our member interview series as part of February’s membership drive, I spoke with April Thomas Rose, Executive Director of TreeFolks about the organization and their Greenlights’ membership:
Tara Kirkland, Greenlights: Thanks for talking with me, April! Can you tell our readers a little about TreeFolks, your mission and what services you provide here in Central Texas?
April Thomas Rose, TreeFolks: TreeFolks grows the urban forest of Central Texas. Through community partnerships, we plant more than 12,000 trees annually to increase the tree canopy. We also provide education to teach the value of the urban forest ecosystem and how to steward this precious resource.
Annually, we distribute 3,600 street trees to 2,000 Austin homeowners through the NeighborWoods program. This is enough trees to line ten miles of street with shade trees that provide not only aesthetic and property value benefits, but tangible benefits for air quality and storm-water management.
Tara: I know TreeFolks has been very active in the wake of the catastrophic fires that hit Central Texas this past fall. Can you tell me more about that?
April: TreeFolks has provided 1,600 free trees to about 530 households in Bastrop County since November 2011. We have two distribution events planned for Oak Hill and Spicewood in March to distribute another 400 trees. We plan to continue this effort in the coming years, since rebuilding a forest requires a sustained planting effort for several years.
Tara: April, in what ways would you say that TreeFolks has benefited from its Greenlights membership?
April: Well, first of all, we have attended many Greenlights events and trainings, such as the Grantsmanship workshop series, and the Bookkeeping series, which both myself and another staffer attended, at the discounted member rate. Several of our board members have also attended the Board Essentials workshop.
TreeFolks also participated in the Board Summit last year, and recruited a great board member there! We hope to be able to attend again in 2012 to recruit more new board members.
I am new to nonprofit work, and have had so many things to learn about effectively managing this organization (fundraising, board and staff relationships/development). Greenlights training and information was timely and effective, helping me and our board improve our organization through our executive director transition.
TreeFolks has a successful 23 year legacy of serving the Austin-area but we have much more to do. Development pressure, record heat, drought, insects and disease all threaten our tree canopy. The urban forest needs effective advocacy to remain resilient in the face of so many challenges. Greenlights has given me and our entire organization a better understanding of how to successfully execute our mission and succeed.
Tara: Sounds like you’ve gotten a lot out of your membership! Would you recommend Greenlights membership to other nonprofits?
April: Yes! Greenlights builds your professional network. It teaches and exemplifies the best practices of nonprofit management.
Tara: Lastly, do you have any advice for other nonprofits who might be facing challenges similar to TreeFolks?
April: Identify and promote the strengths and accomplishments of your organization. Look for relationships with government, nonprofits, or businesses where you can work together for mutually beneficial results.
To learn more about TreeFolks and upcoming volunteer opportunities, visit www.treefolks.org.
Learn more about Greenlights member benefits and join our community today! Join or renew your membership during this month’s membership drive (by February 29) to be entered for a chance to win a free ticket to the Texas Nonprofit Summit (scheduled for September 20-21, 2012)!