By Etienne Laffargue, Policy Intern

Eiffel Tower surrounded by trees.
The Eiffel Tower in Paris surrounded by trees. Credit: David Meenagh via Flickr.

On Thursday, October 15th, I began my internship at American Forests. In the building elevator, I could already feel the excitement and the butterflies in my stomach. After all, I had been anticipating this moment for more than two months and was very excited to arrive! As a Frenchman, I had to go through the process of obtaining a VISA to the United States, which tested my motivation to work with American Forests. As my new colleagues welcomed me to the team, I knew I had made the right choice. I felt at home and well taken care of from the beginning.

What I had come here to do was set in motion very quickly. After a short orientation, I was already on a conference call with our counterparts in national and local environmental and conservation organizations from across the country regarding the reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

The reason I chose American Forests out of all these organizations is that, here, I can specialize in trees and forests, both rural and urban. My goal as a Policy Intern is to help green and embellish cities across this continent. I believe, and scientists back this up, that the presence of trees in cities has positive effects on the health and wellbeing of its inhabitants. Don’t all city dwellers appreciate cool air as they commute on a hot summer afternoon? That is thanks to the trees. We all like our air pure and well oxygenated. And, this is also thanks to the trees. Do you like awakening to the songs of little birds? Well, thank the trees for hosting them. Do you enjoy sweet fragrances during the flowering season? Once again, thank you trees!

Whether it is in a rural or urban setting, I have noticed that trees contribute to an excellent quality of life for all of us. I feel harmonious when I look at them and sometimes play the game of imagining what they would tell me if I could converse with them. Trees are special, and I feel lucky to have them on our little planet.

By coming here I hope to contribute to American Forests’ mission and make life greener for city dwellers across America by taking care of nature and advocating for more trees in our cities. Enriching streets and parks with vegetation is an important step to harmonious urbanized areas, and, hoping that you share our enthusiasm for urban forests, I invite you to embark with us on this journey to preserve and restore the wonderful forests of America.