Volunteer Celebration 2014

About a week ago, we hosted our annual Volunteer Celebration. This was a special opportunity for our highly dedicated volunteers to gather in a casual environment and get to know one another a bit better. We realize that it can be tough for staff and volunteers to get to know one another at forestry events, when the sweltering sun is beating down and there are trees to be planted and invasive species to be weeded, or at outreach events, when everyone is racking their brains to remember the multitude of ways to help get others involved with TreePeople. So we eagerly look forward to this annual event, when we celebrate and share thanks with the incredible people who help make our work possible.




Although the celebration is about honoring all of our volunteers, we also like to recognize individuals or groups who have really gone above and beyond the call of duty with specific awards. The awardees are selected by staff and the award titles are based on their contribution to TreePeople. We are excited to share the 2014 Volunteer Celebration award recipients here!



Vahagn Karapetyan – Joe Vargas Volunteer of the Year

Vahagn is an amazing volunteer and we are so grateful to have him as part of the TreePeople family. Not only is he friendly and hard-working at TreePeople events, he has taken on a number of volunteer leadership roles, including Volunteer Supervisor and Angeles Restoration Supervisor. He even took the knowledge he gained in TreePeople’s Citizen Arborist program to organize and lead an event  in his own community!


Michelle Kelly – Park Work Day Volunteer of the Year

Michelle regularly attends our Thursday Park Work Days. She is a superstar volunteer who continually sets aside time in the midst of her busy schedule to support our efforts. She helps maintain our 45-acre park and prepares trucks and tools for weekend events with a smile on her face and infectious enthusiasm.


Ryan Drnek – Pro Bono Landscape Designer of the Year

Ryan, owner of Sodder Studios, is a talented and experienced landscape designer and architect. Ryan donated his time to help TreePeople work on landscape design examples and budgets that will help with our comprehensive and programmatic work on school campuses.


Chase Tachau – Park Work Day Volunteer of the Year

As a high school student Chase has a demanding schedule, yet he energetically comes out to our Park Work Days almost every single week. He is ready and willing to step in and help out wherever needed and has been a huge help to our Park Work Day staff. He brings family members along whenever he can and has made his volunteer efforts a family affair.




Scarlet Sobranie – Office Volunteer of the Year

Scarlet is a mindful and spunky member of the TreePeople family. She comes in every week to assist with administrative tasks for the volunteer program and has been doing so for almost a year. Her willingness to take on any project that rolls her way and her enthusiasm for our work is incredible.


Melora Walters – Nursery Volunteer of the Year

Melora has been dedicating her time and energy to keeping our nursery plants and trees alive and well for nearly 2 years! This is an often unsung, but extremely necessary role within TreePeople. With Melora’s help, we always have healthy stock available to continue filling in the canopy at parks, schools and along city streets.


Industrial District Green (Gabrielle Newmark and Katherine McNenny) – Community Inspiration Award

Industrial District Green was founded by Katherine and fellow Skid Row residents. When Katherine learned that Gabrielle was a fellow Industrial District resident and also shared a love for urban greening, they decided to collaborate to make the downtown LA area more sustainable, greener and better informed about our urban ecosystem. Up against immeasurable odds, they are leading the way in an underserved area of Los Angeles.


Jennifer Nazario – Youth Leader of the Year

Jennifer epitomizes our highest aspirations for students. She learned about TreePeople from her teacher, and after volunteering at several events, she started her own eco club called the TreePeople Club. Without assistance from any adults, she led her group in completing a fantastic campus tree care event and has several events and plantings planned for the next school year.




Fernando Aldaz – Office Volunteer of the Year

Fernando is a calm, focused force around Yurt Village. He volunteers in our offices every week and is consistently available and enthusiastic about any task we throw at him. His flexibility and kindness shine in the work that he does and the relationships he has formed.


William Morris Endeavor – Community Service Partner Award

WME’s intensive work with Compton schools and kids is an impressive model for corporate community engagement.  Their increased involvement and dedication to school greening efforts has made them an outstanding “Partner in Community” for TreePeople.


Audubon YES Club at Simon Tech – Watts Community Inspiration Award

The Audubon YES club at Simon Tech has been instrumental in building community in Watts, specifically through our fruit tree distribution.  For the first time in TreePeople history, a youth club organized, distributed, and tracked our fruit tree program with great success.




Kirk Hutchison – Native Plant Propagator of the Year

As a consistent native plant nursery volunteer, Kirk manages the existing nursery stock, cleans seed, and transplants propagules. He also aids in drought response watering at TreePeople headquarters and brings friends and family along with him. Impressively, Kirk’s main mode of transportation to our headquarters is his trusty bicycle!


Erik Rosenberg – Santa Monica Mountains Restoration Supervisor of the Year

Erik has attended the most Santa Monica Mountains Restoration events of any Restoration Supervisor this year. He is always first on the scene and a dependable, enthusiastic leader. Additionally, Erik supports the native plant nursery and assists with drought response watering at TreePeople headquarters.


Lynn & Terry Snyder – Mary Miasnik Outreach Volunteers of the Year

Lynn & Terry have been a gift to the outreach program this year. Immediately after being trained, they jumped feet first into volunteering at several events as an independent team. At outreach events they showed a unique enthusiasm for inviting more people to become a part of the TreePeople team, and after events offered many insights about how to effectively improve our outreach tactics.




This year’s Volunteer Celebration was a fun and warm event and we look forward to more informal get-togethers with our hard-working volunteers in the future. We can’t wait to see more familiar faces as our volunteer program and TreePeople family continues to grow!

By Nicole Liner-Jigamian

Nicole Liner-Jigamian joined the TreePeople family after a year abroad in South and Central America, where she was lucky enough to spend most of her time outdoors, meeting new and interesting people. Upon returning to her hometown of Los Angeles, she knew she wanted a career that would allow her to further develop her knowledge of the natural world while continuing to form strong relationships with people and the community. TreePeople provided the best of both worlds. In her free time, Nicole enjoys riding her bike, watching action movies and cooking.