By: Katie Hill

Date: April 26, 2017

As part of Subtext’s mission, we aim to “promote the well-being of our employees and make a positive impact on our community and environment.” As such, starting this year, we’ve made it a goal as a team to volunteer to help improve our community and environment. This volunteering is part of our B Corp certification and helps build team culture outside of the office. Frankly, it’s a win-win situation.


For our first outing, we chose to work with one of our long-term partners, Clark Public Utilities. Every year, Clark Public Utilities’ volunteer run stream restoration program, StreamTeam, hosts an Earth Day Festival that focuses on planting native plants around the Salmon Creek Greenway in Vancouver, Washington. They work closely with Americorp who help with watershed enhancement and outreach activities. The SteamTeam program has been planting native trees along the Salmon Creek Regional Park for over 10 years. These plantings help maintain the natural habitat along the greenway that is extensively used by wildlife, including migratory birds, deer, coyotes, rabbits, opossums, raccoons, and beavers.



On March 31st, our team and a handful of our little ones offered to get muddy for a half day after work to help prep for their tree-planting event. Our team was greeted by a group of Americorps leaders who gave us the rundown on what we were tasked with for the remainder of the day. Our job was to identify and tally dead trees that didn’t survive from previous planting events.



Our team split up into smaller groups to get one-on-one instruction from an Americorp volunteer. Thank goodness we did, because spotting dead trees is a little harder than one might expect! We had assumed that a brown, barren, crispy tree might be a goner, but with careful inspection, we discovered that there was often life under the bark


To discover whether a tree is still alive,

  1. Look at the leaves as that’s the first sign of waning.
  2. If the leaves are missing or brown, check the stem by bending it a bit. If the stem breaks easily, that’s a bad sign for the tree.
  3. The final test is the nail test. Using your fingernail, scratch the bark near the ground. If the wood underneath is green, your tree is still alive.



Once we spotted a dead tree, we had to pull out its protective covering (all planted trees in this area had a protective tube covering the young tree), identify the tree by a colored flag marker, and tally it on a sheet with a list full of tree varietals.



Over the years, SteamTeam has planted over 20 different types of native trees including Douglas Firs, Willows, Crabapples, Dogwoods, and Maples. The Americorp volunteers use this data to determine the number of each variety to prep for their Earth Day Festival.



Not only did we learn a ton about the native trees in the area, while out in the field we also came across frog eggs, soaring birds, Nutria, beaver dams and an animal skeleton of some sort.


I’d say our first team volunteer outing was a success! We came back a tad smarter about trees and put in some elbow grease for the benefit of our local community and environment. We’re searching for our next outing, so if you or your organization have group volunteer opportunities, let us know!