By Femke Oldham
Richmond is about to get greener thanks to the help of Andrew Whitmore and TyJohn Sykes. These two young men have been learning to plant and care for trees–and it’s no small job. The Watershed Project hired Andrew, 22, and TyJohn, 20, to help carry out our new Rain to Roots program: an effort to install 200 trees and rainwater detention areas in the Iron Triangle and Santa Fe neighborhoods of Richmond.
Both full-time students on top of their tree care responsibilities, Andrew and TJ are quite busy these days and I was lucky to catch them for a brief interview before they headed out to the Richmond Greenway to check on the ‘roots’ of their labor…
TWP: Where are you from?
Andrew: I’m originally from Hayward, but now I live in Richmond.
TWP: How do you spend your time outside of interning with The Watershed Project?
TJ: I study psychology at Laney College.
A: I study graphic design at the Academy of Art in San Francisco.
TWP: What do you do as an intern on the Rain to Roots program?
A: We mostly focus on tree planting and outreach. So far we have done two volunteer tree planting events and a few outreach events. For outreach, we attend neighborhood meetings and pass out flyers and give a bit of information about the program and how people can get free trees.
TWP: Why did you apply for this job?
TJ: It just fit. I felt like it was something new and interesting. I have never planted trees and wanted to do something good for the community. I feel we are building a better community in the Iron Triangle and Santa Fe neighborhoods.
TWP: What’s next for you?
A: After the internship, I would love to come back and do more graphic work for TWP. In the long term I want to open my own graphic design firm with a couple friends.
TJ: I want to be a probation officer or perhaps a child therapist.
TWP: What is your favorite place to be outside?
TJ: Any marina.
A: I like to spend time at Miller Knox and Point Richmond and sometimes I jog around Lake Merritt.
If you’d like to learn more about the Rain to Roots program, contact program manager Ricardo da Cruz e Sousa at email@example.com.
Top photo is Andrew, middle photo is TJ, and bottom photo is both interns with program manager Ricardo.