As a member of ALIVE, one of the many environmental clubs on campus, I have had the opportunity to attend dozens of events both on and off campus that reflect my interest in the environment and have allowed me to meet new people that share these interests.
Recently, I attended a forest restoration put on by TreePeople at the Angeles National Forest. Before attending, I had never been to the Angeles National Forest nor had I ever planted a tree. Tree planting seemed like a rite of passage for an environmental studies major, so of course I had to try it, at least once. I volunteered to be one of the drivers for the dozen or so students that were going to the restoration with ALIVE.
It turned out the Angeles National Forest was farther than I had anticipated. But then again, I hadn’t really given much thought to the fact that forest restorations typically take place in actual forests, not on the median of some busy LA street. The scenery was definitely well worth the drive. I had absolutely no idea that such an incredible forest even existed so close to USC. We were miles away from the calming chaos of downtown LA and yet it felt worlds apart.
Once we arrived at the TreePeople station, we were given bright yellow hard hats and heavy-duty gloves – needless to say, we all looked fabulous. We were then given the necessary equipment and briefed on how to properly plant a tree without impaling each other with the sharp tools. Planting the trees was actually a rather delicate process as the saplings could not be exposed to too much light and, because a large percentage of the trees we planted won’t survive, we had to do our best to give the trees a fighting chance. Unfortunately, several forest fires in recent years had really damaged the area, so we had a lot of ground to cover. By the end of the day, my two teammates and I had planted about 60 trees!
It was an exhausting day and as soon as I got home I was ready for a nap, but all in all it was a incredible experience. After all, how many people can say they helped plant 60 trees in a fire-damaged forest on a Sunday morning, all before their roommates even woke up?