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Partners in Community Forestry Conference

Chicago, IL

November 20-21, 2024

2023 Field Experiences

Get outside and enjoy the urban forest at the Partners in Community Forestry Conference. You’ll have the opportunity to choose from several Field Experiences that allow you to learn about local projects, including their successes and challenges. Field Experiences are built into Wednesday afternoon’s agenda and are included in registration.

Washington Park Arboretum
Motor Coach Tour, limit 50

Photo Credit: Arboretum Foundation, Photographer Niall Dunne

Founded in 1934 and designed by the famed Olmsted Brothers firm, Washington Park Arboretum contains one of the most diverse and important plant collections in North America, displayed among 230 acres of woodlands, wetlands, gardens, and walking trails. Located on the western shore of Lake Washington, just a few miles from downtown Seattle, the Arboretum features more than 40,000 plants, including 10,000 trees. It is internationally renowned for its collection of oaks, conifers, camellias, Japanese maples, and hollies and is jointly managed by the University of Washington Botanic Gardens and the City of Seattle.


  • Visit the Joseph A. Witt Winter Garden, featuring a central lawn encircled by tall cedars and firs and a tremendous assortment of smaller trees, shrubs and perennials. This garden is at its best from late November through the end of March, when much of the rest of the park is relatively quiet and subdued.
  • Walk through the Woodland Garden, a small, serene valley framed by tall native conifers showcasing the Arboretum’s prized collection of Japanese maples (more than 70 varieties).
  • Visit several of the Arboretum’s Champion Trees, the largest specimens of their kind in Washington State.
  • Immerse yourself in forests of the Pacific Rim without having to leave Seattle! The Pacific Connections Garden is a unique ecogeographic display tying together five Pacific Rim regions with similar climates: Cascadia, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, and China.
  • Stroll through the Seattle Japanese Garden, one of the most celebrated Japanese gardens outside of Japan.

* Note: This tour involves constant standing or walking outdoors for much of the visit, at times on slopes or uneven surfaces.

Loading Time: 12:50 p.m.   |   Departure Time: 1:00 p.m.

Community-Driven Stewardship
Motor Coach Tour, limit 50

Photo Credit: Green Seattle Partnership, Photographer Jenny Riffle

This tour will showcase community-led urban forest stewardship efforts in southeast Seattle. Stops at a food forest, Japanese garden, and an old growth forest will highlight the variety of efforts underway and the strong community commitment to caring for and building our urban forest in Seattle.


  • Visit the nationally recognized Beacon Food Forest to learn how community members created this shared space for open harvest. The edible forest is advancing food justice in Seattle, creating a space for education and practice that centers on culturally-important foods and community needs.
  • At Kubota Gardens and Natural Area, explore the history of this Japanese American garden and its surrounding forest. Hear from Seattle Parks and Recreation staff about tree care in the garden. A local non-profit focused on immigrant and refugee job training—Partner In Employment—will also share about programming underway in the natural area.
  • Walk among the giant old growth trees at Seward Park and learn from the Green Seattle Partnership about community-led care of Seattle’s forested parklands, including recent efforts to increase multilingual stewardship with partner organization ECOSS.

Loading Time: 12:20 p.m.   |   Departure Time: 12:30 p.m.

A River Runs Through It
Motor Coach Tour, limit 50

Follow the Duwamish River as it winds its way through urban Seattle and into Puget Sound. Consider the historical use of the river by indigenous peoples, along with the industrial changes to the watershed throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Hear from local representatives involved in restoration programs including Green-Duwamish Revegetation, Green Seattle Partnership, and the Urban Waters Federal Partnership. See restoration and acquisition sites along the Duwamish, undertaken with the goals of both restoring the watershed and engaging local residents and interest groups.


  • At the Duwamish Longhouse & Cultural Center, a traditional tribal longhouse that reclaims space along the river, hear from community organizations leading programs to restore the river and the urban forest.
  • Walk in the woods at a Green Seattle Partnership restoration site to learn about green jobs opportunities with Dirt Corps and Seattle Parks and Recreation.
  • Visit City of Tukwila restoration projects at a sacred Duwamish site at Duwamish Hill Preserve, which brings together salmon habitat restoration, multi-lingual outreach, and community driven stewardship.

Loading Time: 12:30   |   Departure Time: 12:40

SEA-Streets: Street Edge Alternatives
Motor Coach Tour, limit 50

Photo Credit: City of Seattle

For years, planners at Seattle’s drainage utility faced a dilemma: nearly a third of the city has no storm drains. In those areas, stormwater flows along street edges to the end of the block where it gathers in street-side ditches, plunges through culverts and, laden with roadway pollutants and pesticides and fertilizers from lawns, pours into small lakes or a number of natural creeks leading to Puget Sound or Lake Washington. A typical piped storm drainage system could solve local flooding problems, of course, but it would still deliver high stormwater volumes and the associated pollutants directly to the surrounding waters. It would also require a huge investment—money Seattle hasn’t found in 50 years.

The answer was to create the first SEA-Street, incorporating a variety of low impact development techniques to store and infiltrate stormwater, and to capture and begin the biological breakdown of water-borne pollutants. Together, the techniques tested at SEA-Street No. 1 have become a major part of Seattle Public Utilities’ Natural Drainage Systems (NDS) strategy. Today, in several neighborhoods throughout Seattle, SEA-Streets and their variations have become a much-admired community amenity.


  • Visit the SEA-Streets pilot project, constructed in 2001, where the series of swales and cascades has been shown to reduce the volume of stormwater leaving the street by 99 percent.
  • Walk through Carkeek Park, which is 'downstream' from the project. The park is home to a salmon stream, which benefits directly from the improved water quality.

Loading Time: 12:40   |   Departure Time: 12:50

Freeway Park
Walking option, limit 25

Photo Credit: City of Seattle

Have you ever experienced lush gardens, large conifers, and cozy community spaces perched atop one of the busiest interstate highways in the U.S.? In partnership with the Freeway Park Association, come explore this gem of the Emerald City’s downtown district. Participants will hear about the work the Association is doing to care for its neighbors, including recreational activities, arts and music, library carts, as well as social services like free food and more! We will also explore the trees of the park through the Trees for Seattle Freeway Park Tree Walk featuring rare larches, a diversity of maples, and many more species.

*Note: this walk is a total of about 2.2 miles and participants should have warm clothes, rain gear, a water bottle and appropriate footwear.

Departure Time: 12:45

Olympic Sculpture Park
Walking option, limit 25

Photo Credit: Seattle Parks and Rec,
Photographer Futoshi Kobayashi

Come enjoy Seattle’s waterfront treasure: Olympic Sculpture Park, a collaborative space featuring inventive art, impressive trees, and public garden space overlooking the new Seattle waterfront. Participants will hear about the interplay between sculpture and trees and experience Seattle’s only official Tree Walk that features art.

*Note: this walk is a total of about 3.0 miles and participants should have warm clothes, rain gear, a water bottle and appropriate footwear.

Departure Time: 1:15

Seattle Center
Walking option, limit 25

For those who like to wax poetic about the 1960s, no visit to Seattle is complete without a stop at the famous Seattle Center, home of the Space Needle. Celebrating its sixtieth anniversary and built for the World’s Fair, Seattle Center is home to so much more than the iconic skyline feature. Come learn more about the space and the Arborists and gardeners who manage the many trees and beautiful grounds of Seattle Center.

*Note: this walk is a total of about 2.2 miles and participants should have warm clothes, rain gear, a water bottle and appropriate footwear.

Departure Time: 1:00

How to Fund & Actually Achieve Tree Equity
indoor option

This indoor session will explore what it takes to really achieve Tree Equity now that you have your Tree Equity Scores. From new opportunities to secure federal funding to innovative ordinances to proven strategies for creating a diverse workforce, participants will take a ‘deep dive’ into Tree Equity, as well as learn from one another and hear successes from across the country.

Start Time: 1:00

i-Tree Office Hours
Indoor option

Missed the bus? Sore feet? No rain jacket? Then come hang out and talk with a few of the i-Tree developers and support staff. All questions and suggestions are welcome! They will run through demonstrations of the two entry-level tools, MyTree and OurTrees, and, if time permits, will dive into i-Tree Landscape and i-Tree Canopy as well. They would love to chat with you and help you get more out of these tools.

Start Time: 1:00

Trees and Me: Early Childhood Outdoor Learning
Indoor option

In this interactive workshop, participants will experience activities from Trees & Me, exploring ways to use this new resource with their own families and with young children in their communities. To support forest exploration with young children, participants will explore the Pocket Guide: Seeds to Trees, which contains four hands-on, minds-on activities to use with the littlest learners, and personal digital versions of the new early childhood resources, Trees & Me: Activities for Exploring Nature with Young Children.


  • Try out new activities designed to specifically engage young children in outdoor exploration.
  • Strategize ways to engage families in your community to support outdoor exploration in early childhood.
  • Review the new Pocket Guide: Seeds to Trees and Trees & Me: Activities for Exploring Nature with Young Children, designed to engage young learners, ages 1-6 in outdoor exploration and learning about trees.
  • Receive FREE copies of the Pocket Guide: Seeds to Trees, & Trees & Me resources to support your future efforts in forest-based outreach and education.

Start Time: 1:00

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