Conversation with Stephanie Funk

Current Position Fitness Instructor for Seniors

What is/was your relationship to ReLeaf?

Staff, 1991 to 2000 – started as a temp, Program Assistant, Assistant Director

PT Grant writing for TPL/Editor newsletter 2001 – 2004

PT National Tree Trust/ReLeaf team – 2004-2006

What did/does California ReLeaf mean to you?

Working at ReLeaf was my first real job out of college. On a personal level, this job really shaped how I currently views environmental issues. I learned about environmental awareness and about people and the world.

I often felt somewhat removed from the great work of the network. The ReLeaf staff would joke about ‘never getting our hands dirty’, as in, our jobs didn’t involve actually planting trees. Our role was behind the scenes, providing resources and support.

I learned to see projects realistically and how difficult they actually were to complete. Sometimes a group’s vision was so vast and unrealistic and I learned how channel that enthusiasm into successful projects. Through the network groups I saw how change happens one tree at a time and that a big project is not always a better project. We sometimes chose to take a chance and look beyond the presentation of a project. Some projects ended up being amazing surprises. I gained compassion for all the hard work folks are doing.

It was amazing to be a part of all this commitment to community – all across the state.

Best memory or event of California ReLeaf?

Most intense memories were of the statewide meetings. We would work 30 days in a row to prepare. It was so busy! Some years we even had to make up the beds for participants before they arrived. My favorite event was the Statewide meeting in Atascadero where I attended as a speaker and participant so was actually able to enjoy it.

Why is it important that California ReLeaf continue its Mission?

Throughout California it is obvious that we have not solved all the issues we were striving to accomplish. We have still not fully greened CA – not to the extent that we could. There is still not adequate funding for tree maintenance. Cities still do not invest enough into tree maintenance. It takes a long time and a lot of effort to change people’s ways. Community members are always going to have to be involved to make this happen. ReLeaf connects people in to their community. Connects them to their surrounding. Gives them the opportunity to take action!