Context: Not all residents have access to a healthy urban forest. Since 2017, Trees for Watertown Teens for Trees (T4T) has addressed this problem by employing Watertown teens to conduct street tree inventories and raise public awareness of and support for the urban forest. In 2018 and 2019, T4T wanted to know if the program was effectively achieving its goals of inventorying and stewarding Watertown’s street trees, growing knowledgeable teen tree advocates, and engaging the public.
Action: As the program evaluator, I worked with T4T leadership to develop logic models illustrating how the 2018 and 2019 programs aimed to create change for the teens, the urban forest, and the Watertown community. I developed and implemented pre- and post-program assessments including online surveys, outreach campaign planning exercises, and photography-inspired focus groups. In 2018, focus groups used photovoice methods, in which teens responded to prompts using instagram-style photos and captions, which we discussed in small groups. In 2019, focus groups centered on an independent photography project, in which teens took photos about a tree-relevant topic of interest and crafted a public presentation. Both methods allowed teens to use their own voice and style to reflect and express their mindsets, interests, and experiences.
Result: In 2018, teens became knowledgeable and motivated tree advocates, especially through the hands-on inventory. We identified opportunities for teens to shift their public engagement from organized outreach activities to informal conversations with passersby and community members (as “street tree ambassadors”). In 2019, teens again became knowledgeable and dedicated tree advocates, especially through introspective and creative activities such as the independent photo project. We identified opportunities for teens to improve their public engagement skills and for the program to better collaborate with municipal agencies. In both years, we produced a useful report (~50 pages each year) and a 1-page summary for stakeholders and town officials.
Check out the links below to learn more:
- Final report from the 2018 evaluation and the 2019 evaluation
- Teens for Trees (T4T) website, with an interactive tool for you to learn more about the tree inventory and tree benefits
- Trees For Watertown website, with information about tree care and tree advocacy
- Speak for the Trees Boston website, an organization aiming to increase the size and health of Boston’s urban forest, co-founded by the T4T Program Director