This is Uriel Hernandez. One of Bay Nature Magazine’s 2017 local heroes. Just 25 – he’s already carving a place for himself as a community leader and forestry guru. Uriel is the community coordinator for Canopy, an urban forestry non profit. In that role, he aims to slash California’s carbon emissions by 2020. His team of youth volunteers are hard at work planting carbon-trapping trees  – and they’re planting them in disadvantaged Bay Area neighborhoods.

“There are the obvious long-term benefits of trees … but I’m often more focused on the immediate benefits of bringing people out for service work and becoming more engaged and taking pride in their community. They hear about trees and they start caring about the condition of their neighborhood and taking action. You get the new people who just moved in and the old people coming out and intersecting with each other.”

Urial fell in love with nature during a high school study semester in Vermont.
“I was immersed in nature in Vermont,” he says. “When I came back home, I was really able to see it every day in the Bay Area.”
Now an accomplished environmentalist in his own right, Urial is inspiring other high school kids to do the same.