a woman standing in the middle of a garden

We Love Our Volunteers! Spotlight: Tess Oby Loys

Clean Water, Strong Communities!

It takes a community of people to grow a community of trees. As another wonderful tree planting season draws to a close, Blue Water Baltimore celebrates the strong communities that work hard to clean our waterways. Check out the following spotlights to learn about some of our most dedicated partners and volunteers.

Tess Oby Loys

Tess volunteered more than 15 hours this fall! She quickly jumped into helping our staff lead groups of volunteers during events. She is a certified WeedWarrior, (soon to be) TreeKeeper and a Baltimore City Master Gardener. We are grateful for Tess’s passion and leadership.

Learn more about what it’s like to volunteer with Blue Water Baltimore through our Q & A with Tess below.

1. What do you enjoy most about volunteering with Blue Water Baltimore?

Knowing that I’m doing something that matters and that will have a positive impact on future generations. I also love feeling like I’m doing something proactive to help our city, the environment, and our struggling planet.

Blue Water is such a kick ass  organization. From curbing pollution to implementing programs to proactively help our environment to educating people on what they can do to make our city a greener space…I’m incredibly grateful for everything they do! 

2. Do you have a favorite memory of a BWB event?

Every planting I do makes me happy to see a street/neighborhood/community with tons of trees where there were none before. It’s so drastic seeing the before and after. I love volunteering alongside people who are from the community where the trees are being planted or meeting the homeowners getting trees in their yards. They are always the proudest of the trees they’ve helped to plant.

I think my favorite planting was one the day after a huge thunderstorm. It was incredibly muddy making everything a little more challenging and so much more fun! I was covered in mud by the time I left and I loved every minute of it. 

3. What is your favorite type of tree?

Oof! Tough question. People say the white oak is the most beneficial to wildlife so it was my favorite. Then it was the sassafras because of the three different types of leaves it has and the tasty sassafras tea you can make from it. For this month, it’s probably the fringe tree (it’s neat looking when in bloom) or the serviceberry (for those tasty fruits!). 

4. What do you do when you’re not planting trees with us?

I try to stay busy! I’m a certified Weed Warrior, (soon to be) TreeKeeper and a Baltimore City Master Gardener. I’m also the co-chair of the Bay-Wise Committee for the Master Gardeners. We help people implement Bay-Wise friendly gardening practices to get their landscapes Bay-Wise certified. I’m also a co-founder/organizer for Baltimore’s annual DIY Fest which we hope to bring back in 2022 for our 14th year. 


Tess (left) pruning trees in with fellow volunteer Katie.


5. What motivates you to keep coming back?

I’m motivated to help increase our tree canopy! We need more trees! It helps on so many levels. I have a goal of planting (a minimum) of 100 trees. I’m only up to 18 but that’s a lot 

more than I had before I started volunteering with Blue Water! 


“I love volunteering alongside people who are from the community where the trees are being planted…they are always the proudest of the trees they’ve helped to plant!” – Tess Oby Loys


If you’re considering getting involved in volunteering, the TreeKeepers city stewardship program (via TreeBaltimore) is a great way to start learning more about trees and ways to stay engaged.


This blog will be updated weekly with additional volunteer spotlights!

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