Volunteer Spotlight – October 2018

Name: Aaron Johnson 
Volunteer Roles: Tree Specialist, Community Liaison, Tree Aftercare Assistant and Tree Planter
Volunteer since: September 2015

About Aaron: I was born and raised in London, Ontario and my family has roots in southwestern Ontario. My parents’ upbringing in and around agriculture ensured that I grew up with an appreciation for the land around us and learned to consider our impact, both the good and the bad. Time spent with my mother working in our family garden helped foster my passion for all plant things. On the academic side of things, I’ve completed my BMSc (2014) and PhD (2018) in Microbiology and Immunology and am in the midst of my MD, all at Western. Besides gardening and school, I love biking around London and playing sports.

Why Aaron volunteers with ReForest London: First and foremost, I volunteer with ReForest London because of the wonderful people and community they’ve built, which is something that can feel absent in larger cities. Through their tree planting events, I have discovered many parks and green spaces that I would otherwise never have visited and can now better appreciate what the City of London has to offer.

The other major reason why I volunteer revolves around my educational pursuits. As a physician-in-training, I am very interested in the connections between our environment and our behaviour, and how that connection ultimately impacts our health. In the future I hope to practice medicine with a focus on prevention of chronic diseases. Research has demonstrated that well treed cities as part of strategic urban planning can encourage active transportation and pedestrians’ sense of well-being, along with all the other environmental benefits. As such, municipal reforestation projects can act as cost-effective public health interventions that also lead to more resilient cities. The work done by organizations like ReForest London is so much more than just planting trees.