treesRus: An Example of How Kids Can Change the World
There are a lot of non-profit organizations, but there are not a lot of non-profit organizations that were started by an 11 year old. Diego Madani is the founder of treesRus, a local non-profit dedicated to planting trees to help combat climate change. We first met Diego when he and his dad Masih Madani, the founder of his own non-profit org TerraOne, attended a presentation about the Parks Foundation. Back in late May, we had the opportunity to head out to the treesRus base of operations and Madani property in Washoe Valley for an interview with Diego and a tour of both their nursery and a site they had recently held a planting event at. TreesRus is holding their next planting event on Saturday, October 23rd at 9am at Washoe Lake State Park. If you'd like to volunteer, head to their site treesrus.org to sign up and learn more.
When did the organization form? What inspired you to start this organization?
Diego: I started the organization in 2019. Due to the pandemic, we have not been able to do everything we've wanted, but we still got things done. When I was [living] in Los Angeles, my dad and a few other adults at our elementary school partnered up with TreePeople, a local non-profit, to plant 25 trees at my elementary school. Seeing how there was no similar organization here [in Washoe Valley], I decided to form my own. In addition, the global climate crisis was another factor.
Where are the trees being planted? What types are being grown/planted and where are the trees/seeds originally sourced from?
Diego: So far all of our public events have been at the Washoe Lake State Park. We have planted Hybrid-Poplars, Ash, cottonwood, dogwood, pine, aspen, elm, and a few others I can't remember off the top of my head. Most of our events are scheduled for spring and fall since those are our best times for planting. Most of our trees are sourced from Washoe Valley Tree Nursery. One of my advisors is a certified arborist and I research and ask people what grows best in areas we intend to plant in.
Over 200 trees planted as of May 2021 is a great accomplishment! What is the rate for planting trees? (X number of trees planted per month, X number of trees planted per event, etc.)
Diego: We’ve adopted Washoe Lake State Park and have planted 40 trees there at 2 events, and we’ve planted over 200 trees at various private properties, due to the limitations of public sites during covid. We are also growing 100+ trees at our nursery for planting next spring.
The new treesRus nursery. It currently has over 100 trees and can hold up to 300 at once.
How has your background in the Boy Scouts, helping foster kids, and working with other non-profit organizations helped/inspired treesRus? Are there other experiences that you find help/inspire you as well?
Diego: Boy scouts has showed me that hard work is necessary, and not everything will be done for you. While I don’t mentor kids I do like tagging along and socializing with the kids my dad mentors, and I try to set a positive example. School, Boy Scouts, treesRus, and helping my dad around the property makes my schedule pretty booked.
Who are some people you look up to?
Diego: I look up to Vice President Al Gore. Not only has he been able to make a political difference but he’s also been able to make an environmental difference. He’s also won a Nobel prize. It just goes to show you what hard work can get you.
What are your goals for the rest of 2021?
Diego: Well, recently we got our full charity status which was amazing. But other goals include planting 1,000 trees and partnering up with more non-profits. And getting schools involved.
What is your dream for treesRus in the future?
Diego: I guess you can say that some goals are planting 1,000,000 trees, having multiple chapters across the world, and empowering kids to make a difference in their community. And having a bigger nursery.
In September 2021, Diego was able to give us an update on treesRus between schoolwork:
Diego: The true purpose of treesRus is to help reduce our carbon footprint on Earth. Climate Change is here and if we as a world don’t try to make a difference, we won’t be able to stop it. I founded treesRus in late 2019. I had just turned 11, was in middle school, and was a Boy Scout. The vision at that time was to make a difference in our community. But with all that we have accomplished in such a short time, my new vision is to make a difference in our world.
Trees are the world’s largest repository of carbon. So, by planting trees we are sequestering the carbon, thereby reducing our carbon footprint in our area. We have had dozens of fires over the past few years. The more trees we lose, the less carbon gets sequestered. So, it's very important to our area to replace and replenish these trees.
treesRus plants a diverse group of trees that are acclimated to our local environment and have a greater chance of survival, including hybrid poplars, green ash, dogwood, cottonwood, and pine trees. Even though we have only been a non-profit for a couple of years, we have made a large difference in our community. In total, we have had 3 tree plantings at Washoe Lake State Park, planting 100+ trees there and despite the pandemic, we’ve planted more than 400 trees in total.
Even though covid delayed some of our plans, we earned our non-profit status and built a plant nursery that can hold over 300 trees. The community has been very supportive of our efforts along with Boy Scout Troop 150 from Washoe Valley and The Rotary Club of Reno-South with their financial and volunteer support. All support is greatly appreciated. Stay informed, visit treesRus.org to donate, volunteer, and sponsor a tree or three. Be sure to visit our online store and support us in our efforts.