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Arbor Day Foundation Honors Top Tree Planters and Conservation Groups for 2011

date 04/25/11



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Arbor Day Foundation
Anthony Marek

Nebraska City, Neb. (April 25, 2011) – The nation's exemplary tree planters and environmental stewards will receive a National Arbor Day Award for inspiring others to plant and care for trees. The Arbor Day Foundation, the nation's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to planting trees, will give out 16 Arbor Day Awards during its annual awards banquet on Saturday, April 30, at Arbor Day Farm's Lied Lodge & Conference Center.

Since 1972, the Arbor Day Foundation has paid tribute to some of the world's most dedicated tree planters. Arbor Day Awards honor individuals, organizations, conservation groups and corporations that make a positive impact on the world through tree-planting, and environmental or nature education initiatives.

"When we honor tree planters for the work they do today, we are commemorating the benefits they are leaving for future generations," said John Rosenow, chief executive and founder of the Arbor Day Foundation. "This group of Arbor Day Award winners is leaving a lasting legacy through the simple act of planting trees and caring for the Earth."

The Arbor Day Foundation will present Anne Hallum of the Alliance for International Reforestation (A.I.R) in DeLand, Fla., the J. Sterling Morton Award, the highest honor given by the Arbor Day Foundation. Hallum founded her nonprofit organization to help people in Guatemala by establishing a better, more sustainable quality of life through tree-planting.

The Morton Award is named after J. Sterling Morton, who founded Arbor Day in 1872.

Under Hallum's direction and guidance, the Alliance for International Reforestation has been educating residents in Guatemala and Nicaragua since 1993, working with 25 to 30 villages at a time, each for a period of five years. The staff (all native residents) educates indigenous volunteers about proper tree-planting and agroforestry that will provide sustainable farming as well as protection from frequent and dangerous mudslides. Through proper tree-planting, mountainside erosion is controlled and mudslides are avoided during the harshest of storms. The native trees planted by local volunteers and farmers help preserve important forests, which have a tremendous impact on the villages. These trees improve nutrition for people and livestock, provide animal habitat, clean the air, protect local water, supply firewood, shade homes and fertilize crops. A.I.R. has worked with more than 110 villages in rural Guatemala and Nicaragua, adding more than 3.7 million trees to the region's rain forest.

The Arbor Day Foundation will also present awards to five other individuals, nine organizations and one corporation that have demonstrated a commitment to planting, nurturing and celebrating trees.

Others receiving a 2011 Arbor Day Award are:

The New Jersey Tree Foundation of Trenton, N.J., will receive the Excellence in Urban Forest Leadership Award for reforming communities by planting trees. This nonprofit organization is dedicated to reforesting the state's most urban areas. The staff of the Foundation educates and inspires residents to take charge of the projects and care for their trees as a way of transforming the neighborhoods where they live. During the past 13 years, the New Jersey Tree Foundation has planted more than 153,000 trees across the state, mostly along streets and on school grounds. The Foundation also works with the State Parole Board to hire a tree-planting crew each season.

Mark Schnobrich of Hutchinson, Minn., will be presented with the Lawrence Enerson Award, which is given to those who have had a positive impact on the environment through a lifelong commitment to tree-planting and conservation at a community level. Schnobrich was the city forester of Hutchinson, Minn., for more than 31 years before he retired on Dec. 31. During this time, Schnobrich turned Hutchinson into a forest on the prairie with tree-lined streets and healthy, stately elms towering over the community. Hutchinson has been a Tree City USA for 31 years due in large part to Schnobrich's leadership and commitment to its urban forest. He implemented a tree-planting program funded by the local utility company to strategically add trees on private property to shade air conditioners and windows and slow cold winter winds, reducing the city's energy usage. He also proactively worked with the University of Minnesota to train volunteers to conduct a tree survey to prepare the community for the threat of Emerald Ash Borer.

The Frederick Law Olmsted Award will be given to Shannon Ramsay of Trees Forever, a nonprofit organization in Marion, Iowa. The Olmsted Award is given to honor a lifelong commitment to tree-planting and conservation on a state level. For the past 22 years, Ramsay has been planting trees by the thousands as the founding president and chief executive officer of Trees Forever. Through Ramsay's leadership and vision, Trees Forever engages volunteers and assists community leaders with tree-planting and stewardship programs. The organization works with more than 200 communities and 7,000 volunteers each year to plant trees. Since the organization was founded in 1989, Trees Forever has planted nearly 3 million trees in Iowa and Illinois. Trees Forever also partners with local farmers to showcase how buffers of trees, shrubs and grasses can help purify water and reduce erosion along streams and rivers. Ramsay is a respected leader among tree-planters nationwide, helping to craft national policy with the Alliance for Community Trees.


The Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative of Frankfort, Ky., and the Hiawatha National Forest in Escanaba, Mich., will receive Forest Lands Leadership Awards for advancing sustainable forestry efforts on public forest land.

Leaders in the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative (ARRI) are planting trees in an area of the country once known for its bountiful hardwoods and beautiful forests but was decimated by mining coal. ARRI was formed in 2004 to restore the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains. This partnership includes mining regulatory authorities and state forestry agencies in six states and many diverse groups that are interested in restoring areas that have been stripped of trees and determining which trees will thrive in the soil. Since 2007, ARRI has reforested about 45,000 acres with more than 30 million trees.

Since 2009, the team of foresters at Hiawatha has coordinated the planting of 1.2 million trees in the forest, restoring riparian corridors, diverse wildlife species and the broader forest ecosystem. Many of the trees planted in the Hiawatha provide vital habitat for the Kirtland's warbler, a colorful songbird that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service added to the list of endangered species in 1973. The Kirtland's Warbler raise their young on the ground under the branches of young, thriving Jack pine trees, which the foresters now carefully manages. In 1973, there were only 206 singing male Kirtland's warblers. Today, through the work of the forest staff, there are more than 1,800 males in the U.S. The staff also planted seedlings to rehabilitate watersheds devastated by years of settlement, logging, wildfire, farming and trapping.

Keep Indianapolis Beautiful will be given the Award for Excellence in Volunteer Management for its outstanding efforts to engage volunteers in tree-planting initiatives. Keep Indianapolis Beautiful demonstrated that volunteers are an essential piece of community forestry management when it worked with thousands to plant trees and transform a six-mile stretch of land along Interstate 70. KIB partnered with Eli Lilly and Company for the corporation's annual day of service to restore the road that runs between the Indianapolis International Airport and the downtown area. After two years of planning the logistics of shutting down an interstate for 12 hours and organizing more than 8,000 tree planters, the volunteers came together to plant 1,600 trees, 1,000 shrubs and 72,000 perennials and native grasses to enhance four interchanges along the interstate.

The Award for Education Innovation will be given to Our City Forest of San Jose, Calif., for engaging and educating its community in a unique way. Since 1994, Our City Forest has been providing ways for residents of San Jose to take care of the area's vast urban forest, and it starts with education. The program has trained more than 400 volunteers and educators, called Tree Amigos, to go out in the community and serve as ambassadors for Our City Forest. Tree Amigos graduate from a free, 18-hour training course, and then go out into the community to teach and guide residents as they plant and care for trees. Our City Forest also educates students from kindergarten through college about the vital role trees play in a city. During the past 15 years, the program has engaged citizens to participate in more than 3,000 tree-planting projects resulting in more than 50,000 trees being added to the city's canopy.

Mayor Todd Eberle of Prospect, Ky., will receive the Champion of Trees Award for advancing public forestry policy. Eberle has done more work for his community's urban forest during his first term than many public officials do in a lifetime. Since his election in 2007, Eberle has initiated a systematic approach to the city's forestry program. He worked with the city council to develop tree-care ordinances, established the Prospect Forestation Board, required the city to maintain all public trees and equipped his team with the latest arboricultural and urban forestry tools and techniques. By 2008, Prospect earned Tree City USA recognition for the first time, and has since received two Tree City USA Growth Awards for exceeding the program's standards. Prospect was also one of the first communities in Kentucky to implement a response plan to the invasive Emerald Ash Borer by using the latest computer software and recruiting an army of volunteers to assess the diversity of the city's trees.

Galveston Island Tree Conservancy of Galveston, Texas, will be given the Excellence in Partnership Award for collaborative work to advance forestry efforts. In the wake of Hurricane Ike, Galveston lost an estimated 40,000 trees, including iconic live oaks that lined the island's boulevards and streets. But citizens of the island banded together to form the Galveston Island Tree Conservancy, a nonprofit group dedicated to planting trees and protecting what was left of the city's canopy. By working with federal and state organizations and engaging volunteers, the Conservancy adopted planting standards, developed recommendations for species diversity and implemented a community tree-planting and care plan. Volunteers already have distributed and planted more than 4,000 trees, and the group has the goal to plant and distribute 25,000 trees on public and private property.

Keep America Beautiful of Stamford, Conn., will received the Rachel Carson Award for its dedication to teach young children the importance of nature. Keep America Beautiful (KAB) sees the connection between its mission and providing opportunities for children to connect with nature. To provide these opportunities, KAB sought to inspire its 1,200 affiliates to create nature-rich green spaces in their communities, where children can interact with the wonders of nature in a safe setting. Through the Nature Explore Classroom kit created by KAB, affiliates are engaged in the principles and inspired to support local projects in various ways. KAB is helping to create a Nature Explore Classroom at the Bartlett Arboretum in Stamford, Conn., which is located near its national headquarters. In addition to serving Stamford children, this new classroom will serve as a model for KAB's nationwide affiliates.

The Arbor Day Celebration Award will go to San Diego Gas & Electric for engaging the community in Arbor Day celebrations that best represent the spirit of the tree-planters' holiday. San Diego Gas & Electric uses its annual Arbor Day program to teach students about the benefits of trees and the importance of taking care of the community forest. Last year, the company's vegetation management and forestry staff coordinated an engaging Arbor Day celebration at the Lilac School in Valley Center, Calif. They taught students about best tree-care practices and showed them the importance of planting the right tree in the right place. With the help of foresters from the company, students replaced seven towering Sycamore trees underneath power lines with appropriate species that will provide many benefits to the school without interfering with the lines. They also planted trees around a large field to provide much-needed shade for students.

Good Steward Awards will go to Charles D. Williams of Munfordville, Ky., and Raymond Plank and the Ucross Foundation of Clearmont, Wyo. The award recognizes landowners who practice sustainability on private lands from which others can learn.

Williams is known around Munfordville as "the Tree Man," and he has lived up to his nickname by planting thousands of trees since he was 15. As a young man, Williams and a neighbor sold redbud and dogwood trees all over town. Today, residents are treated to a spectacular show of blossoms each year in April thanks to his handiwork. He has planted trees on his 929-acre tree farm every Good Friday since 1976. He was Kentucky's nominee for National Tree Farmer of the Year last year and has won several state and regional awards for the sustainable work he does on his farm. While serving as Munfordville's city attorney from 1993 until 2004, he started the community's Arbor Day program.

Plank founded the Ucross Foundation in 1981 to provide uninterrupted time, work space and accommodations to artists and authors in the wide open, arboreal landscape of northeast Wyoming. Thanks to the Foundation's stewardship of the land, the area's ecosystem has benefited and flourished. Ucross is located on a 20,000-acre working cattle ranch that offers artists a chance to let their creativity flow in a peaceful setting. Since it opened, more than 1,400 visual artists, writers and musicians have spent time at the ranch. They leave with a greater appreciation of the natural world and express it in their work for millions to see. The ranch practices long-term conservation initiatives: more than 15,000 trees and shrubs have been planted there. Ucross has also re-introduced native grasses to the area, and planted trees to enhance native wildlife, such as grouse, partridge, mule deer and antelope. The mission of the Foundation is to operate a successful ranch, inspire artists and improve the environment.

Tom Zetterstrom of Canaan, Conn., will receive the Public Awareness of Trees Award for bringing attention to the importance of planting and preserving trees. As founding director of Elm Watch, Zetterstrom, has worked to protect and plant hundreds of American elms over the past 12 years. Relying on the best available science, Elm Watch ensures that the American elm will remain a part of New England's historic and future treescape. Through its Elm Collaborators e-mail network, EW provides a way for scientists and elm activists to share current research on the next generation of disease-resistant elm cultivars, and has recently refocused attention on diseases such as elm yellows. The group provided peer review for the University of Minnesota's publication Pruning Young Elms and helps make the manual available to arborists. Zetterstrom has worked regionally with many communities and campuses to establish and guide tree committees, and through his lectures and presentations, conveys the importance of large canopy trees in sustainable community forests and green parking lot designs. Zetterstrom's photographic work is known throughout the U.S. His "Portraits of American Trees" have been displayed in numerous university galleries and national museums over the past three decades.

Wyndham Worldwide (NYSE: Wyn) will receive the Promise to the Earth Award, which recognizes sustained commitment and leadership by a corporation partnering with the Arbor Day Foundation on special projects. Wyndham Vacation Ownership resorts serve Arbor Day Foundation coffee to provide a better way of life for the people who live and work under the canopy of Peru's rain forest. The coffee comes from shade-grown beans and growers who live in three different villages. These properties have made a commitment to purchase a minimum of 200,000 pounds of coffee each year for the next two years. This will help support the farmers, their families and entire communities in the region by ensuring they receive a fair wage. These growers now have access to healthcare and better housing and schooling for their children. By purchasing coffee grown underneath the rain forest canopy, Wyndham Worldwide is helping people and preserving vital rainforests and the ecosystems it supports.

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 1 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.