Tree Stewardship Organization and Distribution in Hillsborough County, FL

Trees provide many benefits to the communities that embrace them. Several organizations exist to encourage communities to grow and take care of trees in their neighborhoods, a process known as reforestation. These organizations also provide educational resources and assistance to the public. Most of the work done by these organizations to spread the habit of reforestation occur from printed newsletters and attending meetings of local neighborhood associations. Recently, groups are turning to Facebook as a way to increase access two-way communication. The increased two-way communication is designed to help increase volunteer retention, as tree stewardship programs require sustained activity to be successful. This is also a good platform from which to share information regarding reforestation and the native flora, as many organizations express that their main concern is the lack of public knowledge on the subject. For my project I plan to look at the engagement of tree planting organizations and the public on social media such as Facebook for their effectiveness at raising awareness and volunteer retention. Additionally, I will look into the communities that they are engaging with to assess the extent that low-income communities are included within the program. I will assume an environmental justice lens to address how tree planting programs can improve low-income communities.

Research Questions:

  1. What are effective ways of recruiting volunteers and retaining interest using social media sites?
  2. What communities are strongly engaged in these programs? Are they primarily richer neighborhoods, or low-income communities?
  3. Has social media enabled tree stewardship organizations to address their concerns about public awareness?

Case Selection:

For this project, I am focusing on tree stewardship programs near the greater Tampa Bay area of Florida. There are a handful of non-profit organizations that have partnered with many communities, universities and municipalities to spread the interests of tree planting. By focusing within a restricted area, it is easiest to focus on the communities that are affected or unengaged with the effort. As well as makes it easier to determine the impact that tree planting has on the environment.


  • Studying Facebook activity.
  • Mapping distribution of tree stewardship programs, both spatially and socioeconomically.
  • Comparison of online media use to that of traditional media use by these organizations.

Work Schedule:

Mar 23 – Preliminary research on potential organizations and framework for the project.

Mar 30 – First read-through of literature regarding volunteer retention and motivation, impact of trees on the community, and familiarization of tree stewardship programs/organizations within the area.

Apr 6 – Familiarity with associated Facebook pages and organizational newsletters. Highlight what is emphasized within these as important to their respective communities. Record public engagement.

Apr 13 – Mapping of communities that have undertaken tree stewardship programs. Overlay map of community income levels. Record updates to social media pages.

Apr 20 – Preliminary analysis of tree planting program distribution, social media engagement.

May 4 – Final read through of appropriate literature. Record Facebook engagement. Analysis of community involvement techniques.

May 11 – Finalization of analysis and clarification conclusions. Rough draft of paper and presentation.

May 18 – Final presentation and paper completed.

Annotated Bibliography:

Joshua Summit and Robert Sommer, “Urban tree-planting programs — a model for encouraging environmentally protective behavior”
– Studies nonprofit tree planting organizations practices

Christine Moskell, et al., “Examining Motivations and Recruitment Strategies for Urban Forestry Volunteers,” Cities and the Environment.
– Studies motivations of volunteers participating in tree planting programs, acknowledging best practices for long term commitment from volunteers.

Project report and recommendations
– Analysis done by City of Tampa on tree stewardship projects.



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