Building Young Tree Stewards in Balboa Park - San Diego, CA

by Tree San Diego
Activity Type: Stewardship
Region: Pacific West

Engage youth from underserved, park-poor neighborhoods in becoming tree stewards in the region’s most beloved urban green space, Balboa Park

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Please describe your project in more detail.

Project Description

The San Diego region’s urban tree canopy is inadequate. Its coverage should be 25% or more and consist of the right trees in the right places to properly protect human and environmental health. To build and maintain a viable tree canopy, the community needs to educate the next generation of young people to become “tree stewards.” 

Learning all the benefits of trees and being instilled with skills to successfully plant and maintain trees in our climate, young stewards will be motivated and capable to care for trees in their own neighborhoods and properties for the rest of their lives. Typically, tree steward educational programs are provided through local urban forestry nonprofit organizations, and Tree San Diego is our region’s nonprofit dedicated to helping improve our tree canopy.

Educating tree stewards requires hands-on training where trees are available to learn from. Balboa Park, with its approximately 16,000 trees, is an ideal place for such an experience. While the Park is blessed with many trees of diverse species, its tree canopy faces the same challenges as all trees in our region—age, drought, disease.

Program Goals

The Balboa Park Youth Tree Steward program will bring fifth or sixth grade students from a nearby disadvantaged community to Balboa Park to help enhance and protect the Park’s iconic landscape. The program’s goal in bringing these students to such a majestic urban park is to develop them into capable and inspired tree stewards who will care for our urban tree canopy as they learn valuable life and work skills. A partner organization, The Balboa Park Conservancy will arrange for this opportunity through the City of San Diego Park and Recreation Department, which relies on the Conservancy and volunteer community groups to help them maintain and improve the Park’s urban forest. Additional partner organizations--One San Diego, will arrange the program with the target school. 

The participating school faces serious challenges that mirror the economic and social challenges of its low-income neighborhood. With few outside resources, opportunities for their students are few and far between. A collaborative program that involves supplemental education and a field trip to Balboa Park for the hands-on portion of the tree steward training would provide many benefits not only to the students but to their community for years to come. 


Contributions to this project would help fund:

1.    Much-welcome fieldtrips to Balboa Park, including transportation and food. The training, to include the field trip will take place in the fall of 2017.

2.     A custom curriculum and educational materials designed and delivered by Tree San Diego covering tree biology and the many benefits of trees for both humans and the environment, such as the important roles they play in creating oxygen, reducing global warming by sequestering greenhouse gas, and stopping storm water runoff, thereby preventing erosion and pollution from running into San Diego’s bays and ocean.

3.     Hands-on training skills by Tree San Diego in tree maintenance, particularly watering which is so essential to tree survival in our region.

How many kids (grades K-8) will be directly engaged in this project?


What is the name or school district associated with the project?

Walter J. Porter Elementary School, San Diego