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Top Tree Planters and Conservation Groups to Receive National Award from the Arbor Day Foundation

date 04/20/09

For more information, contact

Jeff Salem, Director of Communications & Public Relations,   email

Nebraska City, Neb. (April 20, 2009) – Tree planters and conservation-minded organizations from around the United States will be honored by the Arbor Day Foundation for their work of inspiring people to plant and celebrate trees. The Foundation has selected 20 individuals and organizations to receive a National Arbor Day Award at its annual banquet on Saturday, April 25, at the Lied Lodge & Conference Center at Arbor Day Farm.

Each year, the Arbor Day Foundation honors exemplary tree planters and environmental stewards with an Arbor Day Award. The 37th annual Arbor Day Awards will be given to individuals and groups of people who are making a difference around the world through planting trees or through nature education.

"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 generations to come."

The Arbor Day Foundation has given out Arbor Day Awards since it was founded in 1972. Past winners 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; the Toyota Motor Company; and the Walt Disney Company.

The Arbor Day Foundation will honor three individuals, four municipalities, nine organizations, three companies and a school which have demonstrated a commitment to tree planting and conservation efforts. Receiving a 2009 Arbor Day Award are:

Robert Thibodeaux of Church Point, La., will be awarded the Frederick Law Olmsted Award for his extraordinary work at the regional level.

Since opening a nursery and tree preservation company in 1964, Thibodeaux has worked with private property owners, businesses and the State of Louisiana to plant countless trees and preserve land throughout the region. Following the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Thibodeaux took action, donating and planting trees to save the rich Gulf Coast area.

In 2007, he founded Acorns of Hope, a coastal restoration project that is adding 10,000 oak trees to the coastal regions of Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas through 2012. He collected acorns from historic live oak trees found in Louisiana, and nurtured them on his tree preserve. He travels from community to community, planting these "Cheniers" and educating young people about the benefits of planting trees.

Michael Hardy of Philadelphia is the recipient of the Lawrence Enersen Award, which is given to honor work done at the community level. Hardy's fingerprints are on just about every tree-planting event in the communities of University City, West and Southwest Philadelphia for the last 11 years. He started UC Green in 1998 with the help of the University of Pennsylvania. UC Green has become the leading organization that coordinates and supports volunteer community greening efforts in local neighborhoods. Since it was founded, UC Green has engaged more than 5,000 volunteers, planted thousands of trees, bulbs and perennials and renewed more than 35 residential streetscapes.

Louisiana Public Broadcasting's documentary Return to the Forest Where We Live, the International Society of Arboriculture's interactive Planting and Early Care series, and the book, The Wild Trees, will receive Media Awards, which are awarded to outlets that capture the attention and imagination of people.

The Louisiana Public Broadcasting's documentary, 'Return to the Forest Where We Live,' highlights the role trees play in creating healthier cities, and brings to light the impact trees have in large urban areas. This documentary challenges viewers to evaluate the importance of investing in healthy urban ecosystems, and examines tree issues facing post-Katrina New Orleans, urban growth in Charlotte, N.C., and tree practices in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Baltimore.

The International Society of Arboriculture is being honored for its Introduction of Arboriculture series, Planting and Early Care CD-ROM. Designed for experienced arborists and novice tree lovers, this series offers best practices in tree care in an easy-to-understand format. The Planting and Early Care lessons teach basic tree selection, proper planting practices, pruning tips and general tree-care tips when transplanting a tree.

The Wild Trees, written by Richard Preston, offers readers a rare glimpse into a fascinating world atop giant redwood trees along the West Coast. This is a story of two tree climbers, who discover another world living among the trees. They find gardens thriving in the treetops, and small trees growing in nooks and crannies high above the ground. Preston provides vivid descriptions of the world atop trees as he tells the story of the world's most bold tree climbers.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the World Forum Foundation of Redmond, Wash., are the recipients of a Rachel Carson Award for providing nature education opportunities for children and families.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is being honored for encouraging young people to spend time with nature. One way the Service is doing this is through its Connecting People with Nature program. The goal of the program is to inspire and build outdoor learning spaces at schools and in local neighborhoods across the U.S. The Service is developing Nature Explore Classrooms at national wildlife refuges and at its National Conservation Training Center in Shepardstown, W. Va.

The World Forum Foundation is encouraging a global exchange of ideas to improve the quality of life for all children. To address the challenges facing children today, the Foundation organized the 2006 Working Forum on Nature Education, and launched the global Nature Action Collaborative for Children. Two years later, the Working Forum met again to share success stories and teach members from six continents new ways to make positive connections with nature for children. As a result, thousands of architects and landscape architects, community planners, early childhood educators, environmental educators and activists and health specialists from more than 30 nations are members of the Nature Action Collaborative for Children.

The Village of Wilmette, Ill.; Reforest the Bluegrass of Lexington, Ky.; Fayetteville Natural Heritage Association of Fayetteville, Ark.; the Hardwood Forestry Fund of Reston, Va.; and Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana, Inc.; will be given Project Awards. Project Awards honor a wide range of tree planting, conservation and tree-care efforts.

Wilmette is honored for its proactive response to the dreaded Emerald Ash Borer, and turned a threat into an opportunity. The village was one of the first communities in the Chicago area to discover Emerald Ash Borer infestation. Upon learning of the infestation, Village President Christopher S. Canning worked with U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and U.S. Congressman Mark Kirk to secure $7.6 million in Federal Emergency funding for the States of Illinois and Wisconsin to combat the spread of the Emerald Ash Borer. The Village of Wilmette immediately launched a multi-faceted campaign to educate its residents about the destructive insect utilizing many media resources. President Canning also worked with the Illinois State legislature to enact legislation to provide communities with low-interest loans to help cover the cost of replanting trees. Wood from Wilmette's fallen ash trees have been used to make baseball bats for local youth teams, furniture and artwork.

Reforest the Bluegrass has brought a community together to plant more than 130,000 trees to restore the streamside forests to an area in and around Lexington. Since 1999, more than 5,000 volunteers have restored more than 105 acres of floodplains in this area. Reforest the Bluegrass is a cooperative effort between several divisions of the Lexington Fayette Urban County Government, and also involves private sponsorships and concerned citizens.

Residents in Fayetteville, Ark., came up with a unique way to work with city leaders to protect natural areas in the city. They formed the Fayetteville Natural Heritage Association and worked to preserve a tree-covered hillside near downtown that was popular with residents. The association has also helped preserve a 14-acre urban forest in the center of the city, and a 20-acre lot on the city's west side that allows public access to a trail that wind through a forest. The association has contributed more than $500,000 to the City of Fayetteville to preserve more than 130 acres of natural areas.

The Hardwood Forestry Fund was created in 1990 by concerned members of the Hardwood Plywood and Veneer Association, and serves as a model of sustainability in forest management. The Fund follows best tree-care practices as it creates partnerships with natural resource organizations, universities, extension agencies and forest product companies to establish and sustain hardwood forests. This partnership has sponsored more than 200 unique projects in 26 states to plant and manage trees in our nation's forests. So far, the Hardwood Forestry Fund is responsible for planting more than 3.7 million trees.

Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Indiana (TMMI) serves as a model corporate citizen to the residents of Princeton, Ind. TMMI is working to make its facility in Princeton a sustainable plant, with a goal of eliminating all emissions, utilizing renewable energy sources and planting trees on site. The company started its preservation and sustainable efforts by converting an on-site wooded area into an outdoor classroom, which features hiking trails and 10,000 native species of trees and plants. TMMI has planted more than 22,000 trees on 40.5 acres near the plant's child care and nature center.

Tahoma High School's Outdoor Academy of Kent, Wash., and the Kirkwood Junior TreeKeepers of Kirkwood, Mo., are the recipients of an Education Award, which recognizes excellent educational programs that are a model for others to follow.

Tahoma High School's Outdoor Academy is making a significant local impact. Teachers Mike Hanson, Tracy Krause and Jamie Vollrath started the program in 2004 to provide learning opportunities for young people in a natural setting. Each year, more than 85 students participate in the outdoor academy, which includes traditional classroom time and opportunities for students to apply what they have learned through hands-on activities outdoors. In just one year, students planted more than 10,000 seedlings as part of a habitat restoration project at Taylor Mountain.

The community of Kirkwood, Mo., has discovered the benefits of having its young people learn the value of trees thanks to the Kirkwood Junior TreeKeepers program. The Junior TreeKeepers teach third- and fourth-grade students the fundamentals of forestry with a goal to inspire children to have a deeper appreciation of nature. Started by Bob McCoy in 2001, the Junior TreeKeepers have educated more than 1,700 students about the benefits of planting and caring for trees.

The City of Minneapolis and the City of Olympia, Wash., will be given a Celebration Award, which honors schools, communities and state programs that best capture the spirit of the tree-planters holiday.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is being honored for its "125 Trees for 125 Years" Arbor Day celebration. The board had more than 900 students celebrate its 125th anniversary with a large tree-planting event near Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis. Students planted eight different species of trees to replace the lake's tree canopy that was decimated by Dutch Elm Disease and flooding. As part of the project, each classroom that took part in the celebration will water and care for the tree during the school year. Several local groups partnered with the Parks and Recreation Board for the event.

The City of Olympia, Wash., observed Arbor Day in a grand way, bringing together more than 850 volunteers to plant more than 1,000 trees along the streets in neighborhoods throughout the city. The City of Olympia teamed up with arborists, the city's urban forester, the city council and many neighborhood associations to teach citizens the proper way to plant and care for trees. During the celebration, city officials recognized the 10th anniversary of their NeighborWoods street tree program, which has planted more than 5,000 trees, and marked Olympia's 15th year as a Tree City USA community.

Blue Valley Ranch of Kremmling, Colo., will receive a Good Steward Award for tree planting and conservation efforts on private property. The Blue Valley Ranch, owned by Paul Tudor Jones, is a true conservation ranch high in the northern Colorado Rocky Mountains. Jones and his staff protect and enhance the abundance of native trees and wildlife in the area, which includes 6,500 acres of forested property. In 2005, Blue Valley Ranch worked with private consultants and faculty from Colorado State University to restore historical species of native trees. Since 2006, 35,000 conifers have been planted at the ranch, and another 25,000 are scheduled to be planted this year.

The Streetscape Program of Fort Myers Beach, Fla., is the recipient of the Lady Bird Johnson Award for roadside beautification efforts. Residents of Fort Myers Beach banded together to protect and enhance its environmental resources through its Streetscape program. This program makes trees available to residents to plant on private property along the city's main and side streets. This public-private partnership offers drought-, wind- and salt-tolerant trees to residents for half the cost. So far, nearly 2,000 trees have been planted, and volunteers have spent hundreds of hours distributing trees and educating property owners on tree benefits. The Town of Fort Myers Beach published an educational booklet called "Shades of Fort Myers Beach," which provides information about the Streetscape Program and tree-care practices.

Allstate Insurance Company and Citi Cards will be given the Promise to the Earth Award, which recognizes sustained commitment and leadership by a corporation that partners with the Arbor Day Foundation on special projects.

Allstate started a paperless service program for customers in four states, and the impact on the environment has been tremendous. For every customer who switched to online paperless statements, Allstate donated trees for planting in those states. By enrolling nearly a million of their customers in its Easy Pay Plan, Allstate has added many trees to the nation's canopy and has kept thousands of pounds of paper out of landfills. Allstate also practices environmental stewardship at its headquarters through its own waste management program.

Citi Cards – part of Citi, the leading global financial services company with approximately 200 million accounts and doing business in more than 140 countries – launched its Plant-A-Tree initiative to encourage its credit card holders to switch to paperless statements and eliminate paper waste. As an incentive, Citi Cards plants a tree in a forest for each customer who made the switch. Since 2007, Citi Cards planted more than 2.1 million trees in more than 15 forests throughout the United States on behalf of its customers.


About the Arbor Day Foundation: The Arbor Day Foundation is a nonprofit education and conservation organization of nearly 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

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