Our “Day of Service” was finally here! Leaving our cool, air conditioned offices to head to Trees Atlanta wasn’t exactly our idea of nice Southern summer day. As it turns out, a day projected to be an 80% chance of rains morphed into a balmy summer day. Just for this one day, none of us was going to make it to the gym. As we pull into the parking lot of Trees Atlanta, a nicely shaded courtyard welcomes us. Different variety of trees, with different shapes of leaves, beautiful flowers and long branches offer us a respite from the scorching us and the muggy June heat. We eagerly sign in to begin our three-hour volunteer shift not knowing what we were signing ourselves up for. It turned out to be quite a revelation.

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Here are 5 things we’ve learned while volunteering at Trees Atlanta:

  1. It takes a long time to have a fully-grown tree.

There are currently huge trees lining the streets of Atlanta. However, they will not be there forever. That’s why Trees Atlanta is tending and growing trees now because the 80-year old trees providing shade will soon be no more.

  1. Watering trees is hard work.

The trees must be watered every two weeks. The truck we drove in with the amazing staff of Trees Atlanta, pulls along with it, a trailer of a dozen or so orange pails and 750 gallons of potable water. Once we stopped at a tree, we had to remove the weeds around the tree and create an imitation well around the base to water each tree. Each tree takes up two full pails of water.

  1. Trees Atlanta can plant a tree in your yard.

If you live within the City of Atlanta, Trees Atlanta offers residents the service of planting a tree in their yard if they would like to.

  1. Planting trees is not just about trees.

The process of planting and caring for trees taught us that there’s more to it. Trees need constant care which in turn breeds virtues like patience and appreciation which we tend to take for granted. Trees are essential to the environment, not only to provide shade, give oxygen, stabilize soils but they also raise property values by adding beauty to the surrounding neighborhoods.

  1. Instead of joining a gym, go plant, and tend to a tree.

Environmental political activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai once said; “Until you dig a hole, you plant a tree, you water it and make it survive, you haven’t done a thing. You are just talking.” Truer words have never been spoken. After two and a half hours of carrying heavy pails, sweating, and toning our muscles, had us all contemplating canceling our gym memberships.

With our appreciation for all things air conditioning and the pride of knowing we made an impact on the city streets of Atlanta, is what made this day memorable. Never again will we look at the trees along the side walk as just trees.  It takes volunteers, the community, and organizations like Trees Atlanta to preserve our environment for future generations.