We are TreeFolks
A 501c3 nonprofit in Austin, TX
TreeFolks engages thousands of volunteers and community groups to plant trees in public parks, preserves, and schoolyards.
TreeFolks provides free, year-round education opportunities for all ages with an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning using the urban forest as our teacher.
Growing the Urban Forest
TreeFolks partners with the City of Austin to give trees to qualifying Austinites in the urban core through tree giveaways and consulting.
During a celebration of the Winter Solstice on December 21, 1988, a group of Austinites had a vision. They were concerned with global warming and deforestation, and wondered if planting trees could be a solution to address these issues locally. Thus, TreeFolks was born.
Shortly after, a group including TreeFolks founders Ken Gaede, Dave Kettler, and Mark Dameron agreed to each plant one tree in Austin. Dave Kettler started by planting a tree in his front yard. At their next meeting, the group compared notes on the trees they planted. They realized that with their combined passion and effort, they could create something bigger.
“We wanted to be like a rock, dropping in a pond, and create the ripples,” says Ken Gaede.
In January of 1989, the group officially planted their first tree at a nursing home in Bastrop. “You could say we weren’t TreeFolks then….but you could say that was the first tree planted by the group,” says Ken.
From there, they agreed on the name.
“We were about trees and were just plain folks,” says Dave.
The group approached then-City Forester John Giedraitis about how to get started. John helped the group find contacts and the trees. From there, they began planting at schools and other public sites.
John suggested they plant trees in street medians, starting with Stassney Lane in South Austin. TreeFolks managed the volunteers and outreach; the City of Austin dug the holes; and Jack Brown Cleaners provided funding. Those same trees on Stassney Lane continue to thrive today.
TreeFolks officially became incorporated as a 501c3 nonprofit on August 30, 1989. In the early 1990s, they were invited to attend a national tree conference in Washington, D.C. where they connected with federal funders who awarded the first grant allowing TreeFolks to hire its first Executive Director and first paid staff member.
Since then, TreeFolks has grown to work with communities throughout Central Texas in community tree planting, street tree and backyard tree giveaways, education and urban-wildland reforestation efforts. From a single acorn has grown a canopy to shade communities in Bastrop, Hays, and Travis Counties, and serve thousands of Texas’ people.
At a Glance
Winter Solstice 1988
Meet Our Hard Working Team
Andrew’s initial role with SFC was Farm Direct Projects Manager, then Program Director, and then he served as SFC’s Deputy Director through 2017. Andrew’s next mission was the management of the Texas Organic Farmers’ and Gardeners Association Farm Aid Disaster Relief fund after Hurricane Harvey. This was followed by a year as Policy Director for the Kim Olson Campaign for Texas Agriculture Commissioner, solidifying the candidate’s reputation for a focus on food, ag, and rural issues. Andrew continues to dedicate his experience to sustainability as President of the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. He recently had the opportunity to hone his grants management and administration skills during a short stint with the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department. Environmental sustainability, social justice, and community health continue to inspire Andrew’s professional pursuits and personal life.
During his time spent away from work and volunteer roles, Andrew can be found biking along the trails, swimming in the springs, and paddling around the lakes, rivers, and bays of Texas.
Meet Our Board Members
In addition to serving on the TreeFolks board, Ray is currently President of the St. John Neighborhood Association and volunteers for both the Austin Parks Foundation and City of Austin Parks and Recreation. Ray is a graduate of Rice University, where he met his wife of 16 years, Anissa. Anissa and Ray have three energetic kids (2 boys, 11 and 9; and a girl, almost 5, going on 15), and look forward to serving the TreeFolks community.
Her career shifted in the direction of marketing and advertising at EnviroMedia, an Austin based agency focused on public health and environmental initiatives. Here she developed her skills in media planning and buying, digital marketing and social media, budget and invoice management, experiential marketing, project management, and client services.
She continued her career at Envision Creative Group as their Project Manager, the Director of Client Services, and ultimately the Director of Operations. It was here that Sarah was introduced to TreeFolks and their mission in 2019. She supported the creative development of the Keep Austin Rooted campaign with the aim to fight climate change by planting over one million trees in Central Texas.
She currently works in the technology and social networking space as a Creative Production Manager for Bumble. She is thrilled to bring her skills and insights to the TreeFolks board.
Before her current position, Tracy was Director of the UTeach Institute at The University of Texas at Austin, which she founded in 2006 to replicate the nationally recognized UTeach math and science teacher preparation program that began at UT in 1997. Prior to her successful tenure with the UTeach Institute, Tracy worked in the Chief Technology Office of Cisco System, where she founded Cisco’s Worldwide Education focus and Cisco’s Advanced Internet Initiatives team in the early 1990s. In 2017 she was named to the Internet Hall of Fame, which recognizes a distinguished and select group of leaders and luminaries who have made significant contributions to the development and advancement of the global open Internet.