July Volunteer of the Month: Joelynn Barclay.
Written By: Amanda Alger
TreeFolks would like to introduce Joelynn Barclay, one of our hard-working Planting Supervisors. Joelynn got involved with TreeFolks in 2013 when she went through the Urban Forest Stewards program. Joelynn became interested in TreeFolks and the Urban Forest Stewards program because it closely related to her work with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. She completed the 3-month intensive course, furthering her education on the workings of Austin’s urban forest ecosystem, tree biology and tree care, and ecosystem services, to become a valued steward of Austin’s urban forest. She’s been sharing her extensive knowledge with her fellow volunteers at tree planting events and tree giveaways ever since.
Joelynn grew up in the gulf coast prairie in the small town of Louise, Texas. If you’ve ever driven between Houston and Victoria, you have passed through town and maybe even stopped for some classic roadside Texas BBQ. She made her way to Austin in 1984, but unfortunately didn’t get off campus much to explore the growing country, rock, punk, indie, and reggae music scenes that Austin was gaining popularity for. Joelynn moved on to Dallas in 1987, then on to more mountainous terrain in Denver, Colorado. She eventually made her way back to our lively and growing city in 2002. These days she gets out to enjoy Austin’s green spaces and waterways with Hill Country Outdoors club, Austin’s most active outdoor, sport, and social club. You can find her out hiking and camping, as well as flexing her green thumb gardening at her boyfriend’s home in Bandera.
With her experience as an Urban Forest Steward and years of working with Texas Parks and Wildlife and the State of Texas, Joelynn epitomizes the Planting Supervisor role of acting as an ambassador for TreeFolks by teaching, leading, and empowering volunteers to build stronger communities through planting and caring for trees. Her favorite TreeFolks events are the NeighborWoods tree giveaway events where she gets to geek out on discussing trees and helping community members select the right tree for their yard. She loves meeting the many kindred souls at these events and leaving feeling so uplifted. Though she loves to educate, Joelynn isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty at tree planting events as well! As long as she can be guaranteed some Advil and a long nap after a planting event, you will find her skillfully wielding a rock bar, dibble, or sharp shooter right alongside her fellow volunteers. Joelynn agrees that nothing can beat refueling with some Torchy’s tacos after a long morning of planting up to 1,200 saplings in Austin’s riparian zones.
When asked why she loves trees and volunteering with TreeFolks, Joelynn thinks back to her youth and reading Lord of the Rings. Her favorite of the mythical characters were the Ents, giant, tree-like beings, who were shepherds of the forest. She also recalls the joy of climbing Mulberry trees and picking juicy figs straight from the tree as a kid. Between the magic of childhood adventures and those found in books, she developed an affinity for trees that seems to have stuck. A couple of her favorite trees are Madrone trees, which have beautiful peeling, orange bark, and birch trees, with their classic tall and slender white trunks. Though Birch trees fare better in cooler climates that what we experience here in Austin, you can find a lovely Madrone tree along Southwest Parkway in South Austin, as well as on the Wynn Zipline tour in Wimberley. Joelynn enjoys and finds fulfillment in the tangible changes we make to our creeks and waterways, which is why she continues to volunteer with TreeFolks season after season.
“People ask me how many trees I’ve planted, I say I don’t really know, but I’ve made a number of good friends. I also credit the networking at TreeFolks with helping me land a wonderful job. The benefits keep paying themselves forward!” – Joelynn Barclay