Neighborhood Planting Captain: Dr. De’Etra Young of Parmley Cove

De’Etra is an urban and community forestry expert at Tennessee State University who brought the benefits of trees to her own neighborhood.

Blog written by AmeriCorps service member Tyrah Cobb-Davis, after conducting an interview with De’Etra

Dr. De’Etra Young studying sustainability practices in Jordan in early 2020

With extensive urban forestry knowledge as a Tennessee State University associate dean and associate professor in the College of Agriculture, Dr. De’Etra Young understands the value of trees and the importance of educating others about these benefits — it’s part of what she does for a living, after all! De’Etra became a Neighborhood Planting Captain for her subdivision of Parmley Cove, a fairly new development in Whites Creek, in order to improve environmental health and beautification in her own neighborhood.

Among many other reasons, De’Etra says she wanted to bring more trees to her neighborhood because some were recently damaged by frost and a bagworm infestation. She gauged initial interest through the Parmley Cove neighborhood Facebook group: who might like a free tree for their yard? As it turns out, there was lots of interest, and a hugely positive response! Then, De’Etra worked closely with her homeowner’s association board and created a beautification team. Together they walked throughout Parmley Cove to scope out potential planting locations and strategize about the best ways to reach people. Throughout the process of serving as a Neighborhood Planting Captain, De’Etra noticed that people considered their species selections very carefully — taking into account “right tree, right place” best practices by thinking about mature height and width. For herself, De’Etra’s favorite tree is the Southern Magnolia, she says, because it reminds her of home in Louisiana and because the flowers are so beautiful.

De’Etra says that these additional trees in Parmley Cove will make the neighborhood more walkable by providing shade, and the homeowner’s association is now thinking about potentially adding benches in the future to encourage people to get outdoors and enjoy the beauty of nature.

Thank you to Dr. De’Etra Young and the homeowner’s association board of Parmley Cove for making this project possible! Through the Cumberland River Compact arm of the Root Nashville campaign, 41 trees were delivered and planted in this neighborhood during the week of March 1, 2021.

Participants in the Neighborhood Planting Captain Program work with the Cumberland River Compact arm of the Root Nashville campaign to greenify their neighborhood with free 1-inch caliper trees. The captain’s role is to recruit neighbors to participate, and to gather information about where trees will be planted. Want to become a Neighborhood Planting Captain yourself? Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

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