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2010 National Arbor Day Awards Honors Top Tree Planters, Conservation Groups

04/20/10

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Arbor Day Foundation
Anthony Marek

Nebraska City, Neb. (April 20, 2010) – The Arbor Day Foundation will celebrate National Arbor Day by honoring tree planters, conservation groups and corporations whose work has inspired people throughout the United States to plant, nurture and celebrate trees. The Foundation will present a National Arbor Day Award to 17 individuals or organizations at its annual awards banquet on Saturday, May 1, at the Lied Lodge & Conference Center at Arbor Day Farm.

Every year since 1972, the Arbor Day Foundation has paid tribute to exemplary tree planters and environmental stewards with a National Arbor Day Award. The 38th annual Arbor Day Awards will be given to individuals and groups who are making a positive impact on the world through tree-planting or nature education initiatives.

"The winners honored this year are doing their part to inspire the next generation of tree planters and conservationists across the United States," said John Rosenow, chief executive and founder of the Arbor Day Foundation. "The work done with their hands and with their hearts will have a significant impact on the world today and for years to come."

David Nowak, project leader with the U.S. Forest Service Northern Research Station, will be presented with the J. Sterling Morton Award, the highest honor given by the Arbor Day Foundation. For the past 25 years, Nowak's research on the value and benefits of urban forests has had a major impact on the environment.

The Morton Award is named after J. Sterling Morton, founder of Arbor Day.

Nowak led a team of researchers to quantify the benefits of urban forests. By the early 1990s, he was the first person to statistically sample and assess the urban forests of Chicago and Oakland, Calif. Because of his work, city leaders in these communities were able to understand the value and importance of trees. His work led to the development of i-Tree, a collaborative program between public and private partners that provides tools for communities to use to measure the environmental services provided by trees. The i-Tree tool is now being used by thousands of communities around the world. In 2007, Nowak and the scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize alongside Al Gore, Jr.

In addition, this year the Arbor Day Foundation will present awards to six other individuals, seven organizations and three corporations, all of which has demonstrated a commitment to tree planting and conservation efforts.

Those receiving a 2010 Arbor Day Award are:

Education at Big K of Macon, Ga., will be awarded The Good Steward Award, which recognizes landowners who practice sustainability on private lands from which others can learn. Education at Big K is owned by former Atlanta Braves baseball players Ryan Klesko and John Smoltz, and the tree farm is making a positive impact by teaching conservation and environmental stewardship to urban audiences of central Georgia. Klesko and Smoltz began purchasing land in 1998 with the goal to create a tree farm. Since 2002, they have used their farm to educate people about the need for trees and conservation.

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and the Mile High Million Tree Initiative will receive the Public Awareness of Trees Award for bringing attention to the importance of planting trees. The City of Denver and Mayor Hickenlooper created the initiative to triple the metro area's tree canopy to 18 percent by 2025, and the Denver Greenprint Council worked with many groups to spread the word. The Mile High Million group took advantage of local resources to inform the citizens of Denver about the need to plant trees. More than 1,000 delegates and dignitaries from the Democratic National Convention volunteered at 30 community-project sites around Denver. The delegation included Michelle Obama and former president Jimmy Carter. The group also worked with the NBA's Denver Nuggets and Major League Baseball's Colorado Rockies to draw attention to the initiative.

Dave Mooter of Kennard, Neb., will receive the Frederick Law Olmsted Award for his lifelong commitment to tree planting and conservation in Nebraska. Mooter spent 25 years working at the Nebraska Forest Service to create healthier and more extensive community forests throughout the state. He worked to establish a tree-planting partnership with the State Department of Roads, which adds planting trees as part of highway renovation plans. This program was highly successful and replicated by communities across the U.S. He also played a key role in helping to recruit more than 100 communities in the state to earn Tree City USA recognition, which ranks Nebraska in the top 15 nationally.

David Bragdon of Portland, Ore., will receive the Excellence in Urban Forest Leadership Award for his leadership in advancing sustainable community forestry. As president of the Metro Council, the elected regional government for three counties and 25 cities in the Portland area, Bragdon helped develop a major network of trails, parks and natural spaces. The project, called The Interwine, encourages recreation, connection to nature, and active transportation such as walking, running and cycling. Since he started his tenure as president of the Metro Council in 2002, Bragdon has protected more than 10,000 acres of natural spaces.


Jim Schmitt of Gering, Neb., will receive the Forest Lands Leadership Award for advancing sustainable forestry efforts on public forest land. Schmitt has been providing a hands-on education experience for 1,200 young people each year since 1989 that highlights the importance of planting trees at Fort Robinson State Park in northwest Nebraska. He serves as chairman of the Fort Robinson Tree Plant, a project of the Boy Scouts of America's Long Peaks Council. Each year, scouts gather to plant 15,000 trees at the park, learn about proper planting techniques and learn lessons in soil and water conservation and forestry. The project also worked with the staff at Fort Robinson State Park to create a natural trail and clean debris at the Spring Creek area. Scouts from Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, South Dakota and Minnesota have participated in the Tree Plant project, planting more than 400,000 trees on this important piece of public land.

Casey Trees of Washington, D.C., and Green City Partnerships Program of the Seattle area will receive the Award for Excellence in Volunteer Management for their outstanding efforts to engage volunteers in tree-planting initiatives.

Thousands of young trees are thriving throughout the District of Columbia thanks in large part to the hard work of volunteers from Casey Trees. Casey Trees, a nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring the tree canopy in Washington, D.C., set a goal to increase the city's tree canopy to 40 percent coverage by 2035. Since 2001, Casey Trees has trained 700 Citizen Foresters to become volunteer leaders and educators. These foresters are required to go through training to learn how to plant, care for and identify trees, and tell others how trees benefit a community. They, in turn, teach other volunteers in the community the basics of tree planting and care. Last year, more than 1,600 adults and 600 young children participated in 54 tree-planting events.

The Cascade Land Conservancy's Green City Partnerships Program is raising a volunteer army in the Seattle area numbering in the thousands to help plant trees in public parks and natural areas. Conservation organizations from Seattle, Tacoma, Kirkland, Redmond, and Kent, Wash., make up the Green City Partnerships Program. Created to reverse a trend of decreasing tree canopy, the Green City Partnerships Program last year alone provided opportunities for more than 10,000 volunteers to participate first-hand in urban forestry restoration events. These volunteers donated a combined 87,000 hours of manpower in 2009. Since the program's inception in 2004, the program has engaged nearly 20,000 people in the area.

Steve Koehn of Annapolis, Md., will receive the Champion of Trees Award for advancing public forestry policy. Koehn played a vital leadership role in the passage of the Maryland Sustainable Forestry Act of 2009. This historic act recognizes that an important way to clean Maryland's vast Chesapeake Bay ecosystem is through healthy forests. This law could change the way many states view watershed restoration. It also encourages Maryland landowners to protect their forested areas and practice sound sustainable forestry and stewardship. Koehn has been a longtime champion of trees, with 26 years of experience in forest resource management. He has served as Maryland's Department of Natural Resources Forest Service Director for nine years.

Robert Sympson of Lynbrook, N.Y., will receive the Lawrence Enersen Award, which honors those who have had a positive impact on the environment through a lifelong commitment to tree planting and conservation at a community level. Since Sympson retired as a teacher in 1991, he has dedicated his life to environmental projects in the villages of East Rockaway and Lynbrook, N.Y. He helped create a tree board in East Rockaway, and as a result the village has been a Tree City USA community for 12 years. He also helped launch a shade tree planting partnership in the village, where homeowners put up matching funds and youth groups plant trees on the private property. Sympson also helped Lynbrook develop a community garden, and worked with the community's school district to plan a community walking trail and arboretum at Lynbrook South Middle School. He also played a key role in the establishment of the New York State Urban and Community Forestry Council and the Nassau County Forest Management Plan.

Mary Kay, Inc., of Dallas will receive the Rachel Carson Award for its dedication to teach young children the importance of nature. A year ago, Mary Kay found a way to strengthen its support of victims of domestic violence and its commitment to environmental sustainability. As a result, Mary Kay helped children of domestic violence make meaningful connections to the natural world by building Nature Explore Outdoor Classrooms at shelters for victims across the U.S. So far, the company has built Nature Explore Outdoor Classrooms in Chicago, Atlanta and Hackensack, N.J., and two more will be built in 2010 in Dallas and Los Angeles. These Classrooms are providing an opportunity for children to make a deep connection to the natural world in a peaceful environment.

The Tree Commission Academy of Columbus, Ohio, will receive the Education Award for creating a conservation program that will have a long-lasting positive impact on communities. The commission is empowering people throughout the state to strengthen the forest in individual communities. Started under the leadership of the Ohio Urban Forestry Program staff, the Tree Commission Academy is training citizen volunteers who serve on local tree commissions to manage and care for their trees more effectively. Classes cover topics such as urban forestry, arboriculture, municipal government and human relations. Each student completes 50 hours of class time to graduate from the academy. Since it opened, nearly 200 students representing more than 70 Ohio communities have participated in the academy.

Perkins County Conservation District of Bison, S.D., will receive the Excellence in Partnership Award for collaborative work to advance forestry efforts. The Northwest Area Cottonwood Re-Establishment Program, led by the Perkins County Conservation District, seeks to restore native cottonwood trees to private and public lands in the Grand, Moreau and Cheyenne watersheds in northwest South Dakota. This project is a partnership between six conservation districts, several state agencies, the U.S. Forest Service, South Dakota State University and numerous private landowners. As a result of their collaboration, more than 9,000 cottonwood trees on 65 acres of both public and private lands have been planted. These trees will grow to filter pollutants from adjacent agricultural lands, provide habitat and food for wildlife, reduce soil erosion and restore the beauty of the natural area.

Sheila Flint and the Strathcona County Recreation Department of Sherwood Park, Alberta, will receive the Celebration Award, which honors Arbor Day celebrations that best represent the spirit of the tree-planters' holiday. More than 1,000 first-grade students participated in Strathcona's Arbor Day celebration in 2009 thanks to the work of Flint, the urban forester and horticulturalist for the county. Students enjoyed a day filled with planting trees, inspired learning and fun events as they discovered the benefits of trees. The day-long celebration also includes a nature walk, a storytelling session geared to connect students with nature, "Nature-cise" activities that teach students how to play and be active outdoors, making tree cookies and a tree-planting demonstration. Each student receives a free seedling and learns how to plant and care for their new tree.

Laurence Wiseman of Potomac, Md., will receive the Legacy Award for his lifetime work on conservation issues as president of the American Forest Foundation. Through Wiseman's leadership, the American Forest Foundation set the bar for excellence in forest conservation, wildlife and watershed protection and environmental education. The Foundation's Project Learning Tree is a highly respected and widely used environmental education program throughout the country. More than 25,000 educators attend workshops every year to discover new ways to help young people think critically about environmental issues. The Foundation also began the American Tree Farm System, which is the largest internationally recognized certification system for small forests. Today, Wiseman continues to support conservation issues as chairman of the U.S. Forest Service's National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council.

The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies and T-Mobile USA will receive the 2010 Promise to the Earth Award, which recognizes sustained commitment and leadership by a corporation that partners with the Arbor Day Foundation on special projects.

Progressive has teamed up with the Arbor Day Foundation since 2007 to plant trees in our nation's forests. To raise awareness of its paperless program, Progressive offered to plant a tree for every customer who opted to receive policy information electronically. Progressive contributed $1 to the Foundation to plant a tree in the customer's honor. The results were tremendous, with 1.5 million customers making the switch resulting in 1.5 million trees being planted in forests that were in urgent need of replanting. While Progressive's tree planting campaign has wrapped up, it continues to offer discounts where available to customers who choose to go paperless. In addition, Progressive celebrated its 70th anniversary by planting 70 trees in each of the six cities that serve as home to one of the company's call centers. Progressive employees took part in the tree-planting events, which were held in city parks.

In 2009, T-Mobile raised its commitment to the Earth to a new level by planting more than 1 million trees through a partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation. Through the company's "T-Mobile Plant-A-Tree Project, T-Mobile has encouraged customers to switch to electronic statements. For each customer who made the switch, T-Mobile made a donation to the Foundation to plant a tree. During the last year, T-Mobile funded more than 1 million trees, which were distributed to residents in areas that were devastated by Hurricane Katrina and planted in Tiger Bay and John M. Bethea State Forests in Florida, Hiawatha National Forest in Michigan and the San Bernardino National Forest in California.

Past winners of Arbor Day Awards include Wangari Maathai, who also won a Nobel Peace Prize; Chicago Mayor Richard Daley; Stewart Udall, former U.S. Secretary of the Interior; veteran journalist Bill Kurtis; Enterprise Rent-A-Car; and the Walt Disney Company.

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About the Arbor Day Foundation: The Arbor Day Foundation is a nonprofit education and conservation organization of more than one million members, with a mission to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. More information on the Foundation and its programs can be found at arborday.org.