Photo Submitted | El Defensor Chieftain
Several dozen Socorro residents planted more than 50 drought tolerant trees in the community.

The Socorro community came together on Saturday to plant 50 drought tolerant trees. With about 50 people helping out including local volunteers and Tree New Mexico staff, shade trees were planted on private properties from six streets including Sean Avenue, Coulson Drive, Loma Encantada Street, Avenida Ladera, N Avenida de Chamiso and N Avenido de Paisano.

After the planting, 50 younger trees were also given away to residents to plant in their backyards. The city of Socorro issued a ten dollar water bill vouchers to anyone who planted a tree on their property. According to Maria Padilla, program director at Tree New Mexico, it costs about $10 a year to water a tree and she was pleased the city was offering the vouchers.

“It was amazing with everyone’s support,” said Padilla. “The momentum is picking up in Socorro and we couldn’t be happier.”

According to Tree New Mexico, locals who helped make the event possible included, Keith Stowe, manager at RAKS Building Supply, who provided tools for the Socorro Neighborwoods program both by donating tools and giving the rest to the program at cost.

Samantha Winters, coordinator of SCOPE and the NMT Gardening Club, who helped with volunteers and provided lunch and water for the tree planting volunteers.
Eugenio Padilla, Special Projects Forester, and Fred Kloeppel, Project Forester, both with the Socorro District of NM Urban and Community Forestry, who trained to become TreeNM Team Leaders, prepared and lent a shed for storing tools and checked placement of trees.

Megan Schwingle, Associate Director of Alumni Relations for NMT, worked with clubs and groups on campus to get volunteer tree planters.
Karyn DeBont, former Arborist, landscape designer, and many other positions with NMT, canvassed the neighborhood, papered and supported the tree planting immensely by knowing everybody.

J.F. Dooley, student at NMT and member of the NMT Gardening Club, trained to be a TreeNM Team Leader who papered, canvassed, and talked to neighbors about the program.
Sarah Stanley, NMT student and President of the NMT Gardening Club papered, canvassed, and talked to neighbors about the program.

Laila Sturgis, neighborhood leader, talked to neighbors, papered and contacted landlords for renters.

Polo Pineda, Oscar Acosta, and Lloyd Martinez from the City of Socorro Parks and Recreation Department and were able to get the approval for the water voucher, unloading trees, donating the area for the trees to be stored, and anything else that needed to be done.

Padilla said that with the Socorro’s very own NeighborWoods program there are plans to do another tree planting in the spring.

Tree New Mexico was initially formed by local high school students in 1990, their mission is help communities plant and care for trees in urban areas. Over the years they have partnered with volunteers to help plant over 1,250,000 trees in New Mexico. For more information visit their website online at