Lent Elementary hosts citywide Arbor Day event amidst 100 new trees

Meet the former Lent student who will care for trees; see Mayor Tom Potter accept a national award, and make a proclamation; and witness two other groups being lauded at this very green event‚

Working along with Lent School students, METRO Commissioner Robert Liberty helps plant one of the 100 new trees at the school.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
There’s a whirlwind of tree planting and award giving on April 3; a citywide Arbor Day celebration is well underway when we arrive.

We speak first with our friend, Lent School (formerly called Lent Elementary) principal Linda Ralley, who sets the stage for us.

“This activity involves Lent students making an important improvement to the school grounds, the community, and the planet,” Ralley tells us, as we look over the 100 medium-sized trees just planted around the schoolyard.

“The lesson we hope the students take away from this is that we all need to work together for our common good. It is important they know this, whether they are in kindergarten or in sixth grade‚ we’re all part of this together.”

Arborist Terrill Collier says he attended classes in the building behind him, at Lent Elementary School.

Meet the “Lents Tree Man”
We next met Terrill Collier, of Collier Arbor Care. The company was founded by his late father in 1937, and is one of Portland’s oldest tree and shrub care companies.

“I went to school here at Lent Elementary,” says Collier. Glancing over his shoulder, he continues: “I went to school in that small classroom building. I grew up in this neighborhood and have lived here all my life.”

Collier says the school is the exactly the same as he remembers it from over 30 years ago‚ including the fact there are no trees anywhere on the expansive grounds. “While it’s a shame we had to wait this long to plant these trees, we’ve now done it with the help of hundreds of students. This is the start‚ this is the time to do it. Future generations‚ my kids, and their kids‚ will enjoy the shade of the trees.”

Collier says his company seeks out an Arbor Day project in their service area each year at which to volunteer. “It is a pleasure to work with kids. It is encouraging to see their enthusiasm. It is special for me. Today we’re helping by watering the trees, and we’ll take care of them through the summer. Our company is committed to making sure they get a good start and grow strong.”

500 students plant trees
Collier had lots of help with the Lent School tree planting.

“About 500 kids planted trees today, with the help of 60 Home Depot employee volunteers,” explains Neighborhood Trees manager Brighton West, with Friends of Trees.

It is important to get youngsters involved, West tells us, “Because, in this part of Lents, there aren’t a lot of trees. We’re trying to reforest Portland.”

Kicks off 30th Portland Arbor Day — and month
Zari Santner, director of Portland Parks & Recreation, welcomes everyone to the day’s formal program. “This [Lent School planting project] is Portland’s 30th Arbor Day Celebration. This effort is creating a new neighborhood arboretum‚ the sixth in Portland.”

Mayor Tom Potter proclaims April to be “Tree Month” in Portland.

Portland’s mayor proclaims
“Isn’t this an exciting day?” Mayor Tom Potter asks of the Lent students gathered in front of him. “You’re making your school more beautiful by planting trees all around it.”

Potter continues, “As Mayor, I get to issue proclamations. This means we honor people and events that help make Portland a great city. Here is my proclamation for this day:
Whereas‚ Portland, Oregon, known as the City of Roses, and the City of Trees, is one of America’s most livable cities;
“Whereas, this community’s livability and quality of life can be attributed, in part, to the extraordinary collection of trees along its streets and in parks and private property, including Lent School;
“Whereas, this important urban forest is the result of careful stewardship, and the commitment to the propagation and management of trees in Portland;
“Whereas‚ for the 30th year in a row, Portland has been recognized for its high quality arboricultural efforts by the National Arbor Day Foundation, designating Portland as a “Tree City U.S.A.”;
“Whereas‚ Portland, Oregon, celebrates trees year ’round, with continued planting, with special recognition on Arbor Day, April 3, 2007;
“Therefore‚ I, Tom Potter, Mayor of the City of Portland, the City of Roses and City of Trees, do hereby proclaim April, 2007, to be Arbor Month.”

Mayor Tom Potter holds aloft the award recognizing the 30th year Portland has been named a “Tree City U.S.A.”

City lauded for tree efforts
Paul Reis, Oregon Department of Forestry, Urban & Community Forestry Program Manager and Kevin Sander, National Arbor Day Foundation then present the foundation’s “Tree City USA Award” to Ed Washington, Chair, and Portland Urban Forestry Commission, commission members and Mayor Potter.

“This is a ‘pat-on-the-back’ for supporting trees here in the Portland Area,” extols METRO Commissioner Robert Liberty.

“By planting the trees, you are creating something, contributing to a better future for your area,” METRO Commissioner Robert Liberty tells gathered students. “I hope you remember this day until you are as ancient as I am.”

Next, Bob Naito steps to the microphone to present two special “Bill Naito Community Trees Awards”.

Individual Community Tree Award: Ed Kerns
The Outstanding Individual Community Trees Award, is presented to a man we’ve called “Springwater Ed” Kerns in our news coverage over the years.

A true modern-day hero, Ed Kerns is recognized for the efforts he’s organized along the Springwater Trail since 1995.

“Recognizing the uniqueness of Johnson Creek in 1995, when the Springwater Trail was built,” Naito proclaims, “Kerns realized the potential of educating students about the wonders of trees and plants. Using the trail as a tool to get students from Kelly Elementary and Marshall High School involved in the natural environment, Kerns created the Links Springwater Habitat Restoration Group.

“Since then, He’s work worked with more than 5,000 volunteers, 3,000 of them students. He’s planted over 25,000 trees and shrubs and maintained hundreds of acres of the natural environment.”

Humble, as always, Kerns tells the audience, “It’s true, together, we’ve planted over 25,000 trees and shrubs and cleaned up quite a stretch of the Springwater Corridor through the Lents Neighborhood. I coordinated most of that‚ but I, obviously, couldn’t do the hard, physical work that has been going on for 12 years. Credit must also go to the thousands of volunteers from dozens of schools around Portland, mostly around the Lents area. I want to let Lents kids ‘own’ their neighborhood. Thank you all.”

Group Community Tree Award: Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association Tree Committee
You’re not required to love trees‚ especially the American elm‚ but it certainly helps to have affection for all things arboreal to be an Eastmoreland neighborhood homeowner.

Catherine Mushel, Chair of the Eastmoreland Trees committee; Dan Dettmer volunteer and creator of the Eastmoreland Tree Walk shirt, neighborhood association president Gretchen Sperling and Eastmoreland tree liaison Karen Williams show off their engraved Community Trees Award.

Naito next recognizes the dedicated volunteers who organize and work with the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association (ENA) Tree Committee for their efforts.

“People say that Eastmoreland is a neighborhood that is defined by its trees,” Mushel told the gathering of 200 celebrants. “There is a long list of people who deserve thanks, including Don and Darlene Carlson, who started our committees. Our Eastmoreland neighbors, working with countless groups, like the Boy Scouts, have donated time and materials. They’ve helped us serve and protect our trees.”

Mushel recognized Friends of Trees, Save Our Elms, and the City of Portland Urban Foresters, volunteers Nancy Hutchins and Tom Brown, and the thousands of volunteer hours worked by neighbors and tree-lovers.

“For those who walk in the shade of our trees during the summer,” Mushel concluded, “and wonder at the size of our Elms in winter, we share your wonder, and we enjoy the shade of our trees. We appreciate your help. For all our volunteers, The Bill Naito Award is your award, also.”


  • Learn more about Friends of Trees — “We’re always looking for volunteers and places to plant trees.” at www.friendsoftrees.org.
  • Interested in the National Arbor Day organization? See www.arborday.org.
  • Come enjoy their trees, or learn more about the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association at www.eastmoreland.org.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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