City Trees

May/ June 2012

City Trees is a premier publication focused on urban + community forestry. In each issue, you’ll learn how to best manage the trees in your community and more!

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Page 17 of 39

Partners Updates State Coordinators Speaking for the Trees by Sarah Gracey, State Urban Forestry Coordinator, Kentucky Division of Forestry one product (Thneeds) from one tree species (Truffula trees). Readers of City Trees interact with a large variety of people, issues, and trees. In any given day on our jobs, we may work with the public, coworkers, business owners, utility companies, schools, nonprofit organiza- tions, and governments from city to federal. Combine these different audiences with a large span of issues from sidewalk conflicts to programmatic concerns, and you can have the potential for communication disaster. I think that the Lorax may have had it easy. After all, he worked largely with one person (The Once-ler) on that most people working in the green industry were attracted to the profession because they wanted to work outdoors and not necessarily with people. As a forester for a state forestry agency, I know many of my coworkers chose their profession for the same reason I did—to get into the woods and not have to deal with people. Unfortunately, attitudes like that don't yield great champions of communication. Like the Lorax, it is our duty to speak for the trees. Everybody has an opinion about trees—good, bad, or indifferent. Most people, whether homeowners or rent- ers, have some involvement with tree care. Even those who live in urban apartments tend to gravitate towards green spaces in their personal time. So, whether people are already engaged in tree advocacy or are on the peripheral edge, most of the population has ties to trees. Therefore, we have a huge responsibility and a large audience to work with—and communication is the key to making our efforts a success. Sometimes we love to communicate, and sometimes it may be what we dread the most. I venture to say Communication is something that we must nurture. It is something to think about frequently and take strides to improve. We are on the forefront of our field; we are the face of our profession. We have many different oppor- tunities to engage the public and build support for our programs and industry. If not us, then whose job is it to speak for the trees? How can we do a better job? We must know and engage our audiences, actively listen to and respect them, and take advantage of opportunities to deliver a unified message. The tips outlined below will help you with the process. Know Your Audience. It is important to know who your audience is and consider how to best approach it. Anticipate the likely knowledge base and what the audi- ence is going to be most interested in hearing about. If you are talking to city council, the focus is probably on Forest Ranger Luke Saunier speaks to a group of children at a Fort Thomas Arbor Day event. Photo by Lynn True 18 City Trees

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