Feb 12, 2021 - 10:30 am CST

Written by Antonia; October 23, 2020

 

One of the most exciting aspects of leaving for college, for me, was the fact that I would have so many new areas to explore. So, of course, I used the free time I had to look around campus and find all of the hidden, interesting places, both indoors and outdoors. Luckily, I made a friend who was also rather adventurous and we’d plan days to go out and see if we could find something new. From a strange, deserted basement with a room full of puppets to an old cemetery surrounded by trees, we definitely found some interesting stuff. 

Although I wasn’t with my friend when I filmed this tree, we did find it together behind one of the dorms on one of our adventures. From where I sat on a hill near the tree, gazing up at it as it towered over me, I could hear grade-school students practicing soccer at the school across the street and the dozens of cars that passed by on the busy road below. 

 

 


 

Stories Through Nature is a project of the 2020 Youth Forest Council. You can learn more about the program at www.austintexas.gov/youthforest.

Feb 10, 2021 - 10:20 am CST

Written by Edgar; November 2020

 

Midterms are one of the most stressful times as a college student. During stressful times, going to the park and listening to the wind blow through trees is therapeutic for me.  Losing myself in peaceful thoughts can help clear my mind, so that I can go back to daily life feeling more positive.

Can you guess the tree which these leaves belong to? Here is my guess.

 

    

 


 

Stories Through Nature is a project of the 2020 Youth Forest Council. You can learn more about the program at www.austintexas.gov/youthforest

 

Feb 08, 2021 - 09:39 am CST

Written by Evelyn; October 9, 2020

 

Ever since I was little, I’ve had a love for learning. Cousins and friends would question me as I learned the multiplication tables on weekends and had extra books for fun. Although it may look different today, my love for learning is still relevant. In my current writing seminar, I have been learning about disability studies. It’s really interesting to delve deep into a topic I had no experience in and learn how my identity and my position in society can affect disabled individuals. One of the assignments in my class is writing a paper on disability studies and another topic of my choosing. I chose green spaces and nature. After reading a novel (Feminist, Queer, Crip by Alison Kafer) and doing research, it’s consistently shown how disabled individuals have been marginalized from nature —  from the stereotypical “fit” body to assuming parks are dangerous to simply not extending opportunities. Studies have also shown that spending time in nature decreases stress levels and increases confidence. Before taking this class and participating in the Youth Forest Council internship, I assumed nature was accessible to everyone — it's nature! But time and time again, I have been exposed to the work we as a society still have to do in order to create equitable access to green spaces. What can you contribute to equity in nature? 

         

 

 


 

Stories Through Nature is a project of the 2020 Youth Forest Council. You can learn more about the program at www.austintexas.gov/youthforest.

 

Jan 14, 2021 - 04:22 pm CST

 

Written by Evelyn; October 1, 2020

 

Sometimes all one needs is some food for the soul. For me, spending time in nature solves that. Bike riding, hiking, or even sitting in my backyard on the trampoline as the sun sets. I am currently in a part of my life where a lot of things are changing. New doors are opening and I’m growing more curious about the world. The pandemic has caused a lot of last-minute planning, but having time to meditate helps. Feeling the breeze on my skin, the birds communicating with each other, leaves rustling. It all brings my head back down.

We all think about how nature needs us, but I think we need nature more.  

Can you guess what tree this leaf is from? My guess is here

 

     

 

 


 

Stories Through Nature is a project of the 2020 Youth Forest Council. You can learn more about the program at www.austintexas.gov/youthforest.

 

Jan 08, 2021 - 12:32 pm CST

Banner that says "Stories Through Nature: a project of the 2020 Youth Forest Council". The words are hand written and playful. The text is surrounded by illustrations of leaves.

Written by Antonia; August 26, 2020

 

For the last tree I would be filming in Austin, I decided to film the Ashe Juniper tree in my backyard. I’ve always loved Junipers, although I’m not entirely sure why, and it’s always been my favorite tree near my house. I’ve always watched it through my kitchen window while doing the dishes, hoping to catch sight of a cardinal or mockingbird landing on its branches. Such moments, though small, brought me a lot of happiness.  

As I sat in my backyard, beneath this tree, it began to sink in that I wouldn’t be at home for a while. Until then, I hadn’t really registered how far from home I would be and, while I didn’t feel scared about it, I felt a bit of shock regarding how big my next step in life would be. I used this moment to think about this, listening to the sound of wind chimes in the distance and birds in the trees around me.  

(Also, at one point, my neighbors’ chickens hopped over our fence and began exploring our backyard, which was very fun to watch).

 

 


 

Stories Through Nature is a project of the 2020 Youth Forest Council. You can learn more about the program at www.austintexas.gov/youthforest.

 

Jan 04, 2021 - 04:57 pm CST

Written by Edgar; September 2020

 

The beginning of my college days began in a new city during a pandemic. Everyone wore masks and followed COVID regulations. It felt welcoming and fresh. Trees align the streets of Boston University allowing me to appreciate all sorts of colors during fall. 2020 has been a rough year, however these colorful trees have given me energy to keep going through this weird year.

Can you guess which tree these leaves belong to? Click here for my guess!

 


 

Stories Through Nature is a project of the 2020 Youth Forest Council. You can learn more about the program at www.austintexas.gov/youthforest.

 

Jan 04, 2021 - 04:17 pm CST

Banner: Stories Through Nature - a project of the 2020 Youth Forest Council

Written by Evelyn; September 28, 2020

 

By now, I would have been in Philly — meeting other freshman, adjusting to a new city, new weather. Unfortunately, 2020 had different plans in mind. My college campus decided to close for the fall semester one week before I was meant to fly out. I was so looking forward to living with my best friend and starting a new chapter of my life. After missing out on prom, graduation, and a pennant ceremony, college was the one thing that shouldn’t have gone wrong.

This surprise has brought around a lot of good things though. I am happy to be spending more time with my friends and family at home. I have had more opportunities arise and I’m getting to know Austin’s greenspaces little by little. Although this isn’t what I imagined this fall to look like, I do believe things happen for a reason.  

These next couple of leaves were found at Barkley Meadows on an early and cool Saturday morning.  

Can you guess what it is? My guess is here

  

Image: Leaf rubbing showing details of a lobed leaf 2 to 5 inches wide.

Photo: A rusty colored leaf with lobes is held between two fingers.   Photo: A small tree with a green canopy and many lobed leaves in a park on a bright, sunny day.

 

 


 

Stories Through Nature is a project of the 2020 Youth Forest Council. You can learn more about the program at www.austintexas.gov/youthforest.

 

Dec 18, 2020 - 03:05 pm CST

 

In 2020, the City of Austin's Community Tree Preservation Division released the Community Tree Priority Map. This resource prioritization tool is for everyone to use including city programs, partners, policy makers, Urban Forest Grant applicants, arborists and more. It provides access to relevant data comparable across Austin’s neighborhoods. For example, tree canopy data helps uncover disparities in historically under-canopied areas. This enables people to decide where activities like planting, tree care, and community outreach could occur around Austin. 

Developing the tool entailed consulting with many people, including arborists, planners, tree planters, students, and others. Youth engagement proved instrumental in establishing the relative weight of the priorities.    

Additionally, the City's Youth Forest Council and Park Ranger Cadets expressed their admiration through words of gratitude and letters to trees. One participant wrote,  

“I am thankful for the shade trees bring on hot summer days. I am thankful for the way they calm me down so I am able to listen to nature and feel at ease. I am thankful for the clean air they give me so I am able to breathe.”  

The map matches survey priorities with data points including tree canopy, temperature, mental health, and air pollution. It then bakes this info into a simple score. In the map, red equals higher scores. Higher scores mean higher priority. This is where we’d like to invest more planting and stewardship activities.

In the end, priority areas help us gauge success. For instance, are activities like tree planting occurring in higher priority areas? So far the data tell us, 60% of tree planting occurred in the moderate to highest need areas over the last five years. Moving forward, we will encourage future projects in priority areas. 

 

Austin’s Community Tree Priority Map 

Interested in learning more? View the interactive map here!

 

Do you have an idea to benefit Austin's urban forest in high priority areas? We encourage you to explore and apply for the Urban Forest Grant, which can help fund your tree-related ideas.

Article contributed by Alan Halter, GIS Analyst Senior with the Community Tree Preservation Division. Email your questions to Alan by clicking here.  

Additional Information:  

Stewardship Investment: The Community Tree Report seeks to share how the City invests in the activities that support Austin’s urban forest and community of stewards. The Report features investment visualizations, an interactive map of projects, and the raw data for your own analysis project.  

Urban Forest Benefits: Urban Forest Inventory and Analysis Program (UFIA) completed an assessment in Austin in 2016. Austin’s urban forest monitoring program and produces estimates of the quantity, health, composition, and benefits of urban trees and forests. 

City of Austin Strategic Direction 2023 (SD23) Alignment: Tree Planting Prioritization Map supports the SD23 Government that works for all (GTW.10).  

 

 

Dec 18, 2020 - 12:29 pm CST

Banner: Stories Through Nature - a project of the 2020 Youth Forest Council

Written by Antonia; August 20, 2020

Live Oak

 

As the date for my departure to Philadelphia grew closer, I decided to visit a place I hadn’t been to in a long time. In Austin, there’s a lovely park behind this popular grocery store in my area. As a child, I hosted and attended many birthday parties there, as well as play dates with friends. I spent countless hours running down the grassy hills, feeding ducks at the pond, and tediously crossing the “rock bridge” (which we were not actually allowed to do, but we ignored the signs). In this video, you will see the ancient Live Oak tree that I consider a fundamental part of my childhood. I used to climb this tree with my friends and sit in the branches with them. We’d play pretend and other games, running underneath its canopy. 

While I frequented the grocery store a lot during high school, I never really had time to visit the park, so I enjoyed the nostalgia I felt walking through the area again. Luckily, I was able to film the tree when there weren’t a lot of people nearby. As I sat under this tree, I thought of my past here in Austin and listened to the sound of the helicopters flying overhead, landing on the nearby hospital. After a while, some kids approached and began climbing the tree, so I decided to get going. I heard them screaming and laughing as I walked away. 

 

 


 

Stories Through Nature is a project of the 2020 Youth Forest Council. You can learn more about the program at www.austintexas.gov/youthforest.

  

Dec 11, 2020 - 02:04 pm CST

Banner: Stories Through Nature - a project of the 2020 Youth Forest Council

Written by Evelyn; October 23, 2020

 

Hello you. I heard you are interested in Leaf and Tree Identification! You are in the right place. 🙂

First, I want to share the resources I have used to identify my collection of leaves so you can later identify yours!  

Second, pick leaves you like and are interested in learning about! As you will see from some of my past and future posts, the leaves hold a special meaning to me — whether it be the first red leaf I had seen or a leaf with a gorgeous, shiny black color I was curious about. Also, keep track of the leaf's surroundings.

Some questions to ask yourself for better understanding your leaves are: 

  • What park were the leaves in? 

  • What kind of environment was around it? 

  • What season did you pick this leaf in? What was the weather like? 

  • Was the leaf damaged? Were there small ecosystems on or within the leaf? 

Remember: follow all Austin Public Health guidelines when in parks. Make sure to keep a 6-foot distance from others and wear a mask. A bottle of hand sanitizer won’t hurt either. 😊

Third, I strongly recommend having a journal or paper around to keep track of the characteristics of the leaf as you follow along on either of the website tools I listed above. This could also help you retain the information better.

Fourth, have fun with it! I decided to take a more artistic approach by doing leaf rubbings and labeling the characteristics on paper. Learning about nature can be fun! 

How to create a leaf rubbing: 

  1. Have a blank piece of paper, a crayon, a leaf, and a flat surface ready. 

  1. Place the leaf under the blank piece of paper 

  1. Using the side of your crayon (or pencil/colored pencil), rub it on the paper while holding the paper and leaf in place 

  1. After rubbing/coloring, you should have a beautiful traced leaf on the once blank paper! 

 


 

Stories Through Nature is a project of the 2020 Youth Forest Council. You can learn more about the program at www.austintexas.gov/youthforest.

 

Feb 10, 2021 - 10:20 am CST

Written by Edgar; November 2020

 

Midterms are one of the most stressful times as a college student. During stressful times, going to the park and listening to the wind blow through trees is therapeutic for me.  Losing myself in peaceful thoughts can help clear my mind, so that I can go back to daily life feeling more positive.

Can you guess the tree which these leaves belong to? Here is my guess.

 

    

 


 

Stories Through Nature is a project of the 2020 Youth Forest Council. You can learn more about the program at www.austintexas.gov/youthforest

 

Nature in the City – Austin
Feb 08, 2021 - 09:39 am CST

Written by Evelyn; October 9, 2020

 

Ever since I was little, I’ve had a love for learning. Cousins and friends would question me as I learned the multiplication tables on weekends and had extra books for fun. Although it may look different today, my love for learning is still relevant. In my current writing seminar, I have been learning about disability studies. It’s really interesting to delve deep into a topic I had no experience in and learn how my identity and my position in society can affect disabled individuals. One of the assignments in my class is writing a paper on disability studies and another topic of my choosing. I chose green spaces and nature. After reading a novel (Feminist, Queer, Crip by Alison Kafer) and doing research, it’s consistently shown how disabled individuals have been marginalized from nature —  from the stereotypical “fit” body to assuming parks are dangerous to simply not extending opportunities. Studies have also shown that spending time in nature decreases stress levels and increases confidence. Before taking this class and participating in the Youth Forest Council internship, I assumed nature was accessible to everyone — it's nature! But time and time again, I have been exposed to the work we as a society still have to do in order to create equitable access to green spaces. What can you contribute to equity in nature? 

         

 

 


 

Stories Through Nature is a project of the 2020 Youth Forest Council. You can learn more about the program at www.austintexas.gov/youthforest.

 

Nature in the City – Austin
Jan 14, 2021 - 04:22 pm CST

 

Written by Evelyn; October 1, 2020

 

Sometimes all one needs is some food for the soul. For me, spending time in nature solves that. Bike riding, hiking, or even sitting in my backyard on the trampoline as the sun sets. I am currently in a part of my life where a lot of things are changing. New doors are opening and I’m growing more curious about the world. The pandemic has caused a lot of last-minute planning, but having time to meditate helps. Feeling the breeze on my skin, the birds communicating with each other, leaves rustling. It all brings my head back down.

We all think about how nature needs us, but I think we need nature more.  

Can you guess what tree this leaf is from? My guess is here

 

     

 

 


 

Stories Through Nature is a project of the 2020 Youth Forest Council. You can learn more about the program at www.austintexas.gov/youthforest.

 

Nature in the City – Austin
Jan 08, 2021 - 12:32 pm CST

Banner that says "Stories Through Nature: a project of the 2020 Youth Forest Council". The words are hand written and playful. The text is surrounded by illustrations of leaves.

Written by Antonia; August 26, 2020

 

For the last tree I would be filming in Austin, I decided to film the Ashe Juniper tree in my backyard. I’ve always loved Junipers, although I’m not entirely sure why, and it’s always been my favorite tree near my house. I’ve always watched it through my kitchen window while doing the dishes, hoping to catch sight of a cardinal or mockingbird landing on its branches. Such moments, though small, brought me a lot of happiness.  

As I sat in my backyard, beneath this tree, it began to sink in that I wouldn’t be at home for a while. Until then, I hadn’t really registered how far from home I would be and, while I didn’t feel scared about it, I felt a bit of shock regarding how big my next step in life would be. I used this moment to think about this, listening to the sound of wind chimes in the distance and birds in the trees around me.  

(Also, at one point, my neighbors’ chickens hopped over our fence and began exploring our backyard, which was very fun to watch).

 

 


 

Stories Through Nature is a project of the 2020 Youth Forest Council. You can learn more about the program at www.austintexas.gov/youthforest.

 

Nature in the City – Austin
Jan 04, 2021 - 04:57 pm CST

Written by Edgar; September 2020

 

The beginning of my college days began in a new city during a pandemic. Everyone wore masks and followed COVID regulations. It felt welcoming and fresh. Trees align the streets of Boston University allowing me to appreciate all sorts of colors during fall. 2020 has been a rough year, however these colorful trees have given me energy to keep going through this weird year.

Can you guess which tree these leaves belong to? Click here for my guess!

 


 

Stories Through Nature is a project of the 2020 Youth Forest Council. You can learn more about the program at www.austintexas.gov/youthforest.

 

Nature in the City – Austin
Jan 04, 2021 - 04:17 pm CST

Banner: Stories Through Nature - a project of the 2020 Youth Forest Council

Written by Evelyn; September 28, 2020

 

By now, I would have been in Philly — meeting other freshman, adjusting to a new city, new weather. Unfortunately, 2020 had different plans in mind. My college campus decided to close for the fall semester one week before I was meant to fly out. I was so looking forward to living with my best friend and starting a new chapter of my life. After missing out on prom, graduation, and a pennant ceremony, college was the one thing that shouldn’t have gone wrong.

This surprise has brought around a lot of good things though. I am happy to be spending more time with my friends and family at home. I have had more opportunities arise and I’m getting to know Austin’s greenspaces little by little. Although this isn’t what I imagined this fall to look like, I do believe things happen for a reason.  

These next couple of leaves were found at Barkley Meadows on an early and cool Saturday morning.  

Can you guess what it is? My guess is here

  

Image: Leaf rubbing showing details of a lobed leaf 2 to 5 inches wide.

Photo: A rusty colored leaf with lobes is held between two fingers.   Photo: A small tree with a green canopy and many lobed leaves in a park on a bright, sunny day.

 

 


 

Stories Through Nature is a project of the 2020 Youth Forest Council. You can learn more about the program at www.austintexas.gov/youthforest.

 

Nature in the City – Austin
Dec 18, 2020 - 03:05 pm CST

 

In 2020, the City of Austin's Community Tree Preservation Division released the Community Tree Priority Map. This resource prioritization tool is for everyone to use including city programs, partners, policy makers, Urban Forest Grant applicants, arborists and more. It provides access to relevant data comparable across Austin’s neighborhoods. For example, tree canopy data helps uncover disparities in historically under-canopied areas. This enables people to decide where activities like planting, tree care, and community outreach could occur around Austin. 

Developing the tool entailed consulting with many people, including arborists, planners, tree planters, students, and others. Youth engagement proved instrumental in establishing the relative weight of the priorities.    

Additionally, the City's Youth Forest Council and Park Ranger Cadets expressed their admiration through words of gratitude and letters to trees. One participant wrote,  

“I am thankful for the shade trees bring on hot summer days. I am thankful for the way they calm me down so I am able to listen to nature and feel at ease. I am thankful for the clean air they give me so I am able to breathe.”  

The map matches survey priorities with data points including tree canopy, temperature, mental health, and air pollution. It then bakes this info into a simple score. In the map, red equals higher scores. Higher scores mean higher priority. This is where we’d like to invest more planting and stewardship activities.

In the end, priority areas help us gauge success. For instance, are activities like tree planting occurring in higher priority areas? So far the data tell us, 60% of tree planting occurred in the moderate to highest need areas over the last five years. Moving forward, we will encourage future projects in priority areas. 

 

Austin’s Community Tree Priority Map 

Interested in learning more? View the interactive map here!

 

Do you have an idea to benefit Austin's urban forest in high priority areas? We encourage you to explore and apply for the Urban Forest Grant, which can help fund your tree-related ideas.

Article contributed by Alan Halter, GIS Analyst Senior with the Community Tree Preservation Division. Email your questions to Alan by clicking here.  

Additional Information:  

Stewardship Investment: The Community Tree Report seeks to share how the City invests in the activities that support Austin’s urban forest and community of stewards. The Report features investment visualizations, an interactive map of projects, and the raw data for your own analysis project.  

Urban Forest Benefits: Urban Forest Inventory and Analysis Program (UFIA) completed an assessment in Austin in 2016. Austin’s urban forest monitoring program and produces estimates of the quantity, health, composition, and benefits of urban trees and forests. 

City of Austin Strategic Direction 2023 (SD23) Alignment: Tree Planting Prioritization Map supports the SD23 Government that works for all (GTW.10).  

 

 

Nature in the City – Austin
Dec 18, 2020 - 12:29 pm CST

Banner: Stories Through Nature - a project of the 2020 Youth Forest Council

Written by Antonia; August 20, 2020

Live Oak

 

As the date for my departure to Philadelphia grew closer, I decided to visit a place I hadn’t been to in a long time. In Austin, there’s a lovely park behind this popular grocery store in my area. As a child, I hosted and attended many birthday parties there, as well as play dates with friends. I spent countless hours running down the grassy hills, feeding ducks at the pond, and tediously crossing the “rock bridge” (which we were not actually allowed to do, but we ignored the signs). In this video, you will see the ancient Live Oak tree that I consider a fundamental part of my childhood. I used to climb this tree with my friends and sit in the branches with them. We’d play pretend and other games, running underneath its canopy. 

While I frequented the grocery store a lot during high school, I never really had time to visit the park, so I enjoyed the nostalgia I felt walking through the area again. Luckily, I was able to film the tree when there weren’t a lot of people nearby. As I sat under this tree, I thought of my past here in Austin and listened to the sound of the helicopters flying overhead, landing on the nearby hospital. After a while, some kids approached and began climbing the tree, so I decided to get going. I heard them screaming and laughing as I walked away. 

 

 


 

Stories Through Nature is a project of the 2020 Youth Forest Council. You can learn more about the program at www.austintexas.gov/youthforest.

  

Nature in the City – Austin
Dec 11, 2020 - 02:04 pm CST

Banner: Stories Through Nature - a project of the 2020 Youth Forest Council

Written by Evelyn; October 23, 2020

 

Hello you. I heard you are interested in Leaf and Tree Identification! You are in the right place. 🙂

First, I want to share the resources I have used to identify my collection of leaves so you can later identify yours!  

Second, pick leaves you like and are interested in learning about! As you will see from some of my past and future posts, the leaves hold a special meaning to me — whether it be the first red leaf I had seen or a leaf with a gorgeous, shiny black color I was curious about. Also, keep track of the leaf's surroundings.

Some questions to ask yourself for better understanding your leaves are: 

  • What park were the leaves in? 

  • What kind of environment was around it? 

  • What season did you pick this leaf in? What was the weather like? 

  • Was the leaf damaged? Were there small ecosystems on or within the leaf? 

Remember: follow all Austin Public Health guidelines when in parks. Make sure to keep a 6-foot distance from others and wear a mask. A bottle of hand sanitizer won’t hurt either. 😊

Third, I strongly recommend having a journal or paper around to keep track of the characteristics of the leaf as you follow along on either of the website tools I listed above. This could also help you retain the information better.

Fourth, have fun with it! I decided to take a more artistic approach by doing leaf rubbings and labeling the characteristics on paper. Learning about nature can be fun! 

How to create a leaf rubbing: 

  1. Have a blank piece of paper, a crayon, a leaf, and a flat surface ready. 

  1. Place the leaf under the blank piece of paper 

  1. Using the side of your crayon (or pencil/colored pencil), rub it on the paper while holding the paper and leaf in place 

  1. After rubbing/coloring, you should have a beautiful traced leaf on the once blank paper! 

 


 

Stories Through Nature is a project of the 2020 Youth Forest Council. You can learn more about the program at www.austintexas.gov/youthforest.

 

Nature in the City – Austin