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Sixteen Individuals and Organizations Receive National Award From the Arbor Day Foundation

date 04/25/12

For more information, contact

Jeff Salem, Director of Communications & Public Relations,   email

Nebraska City, Neb. (April 25, 2012) – Sixteen individuals and organizations will receive a 2012 Arbor Day Award in honor of their outstanding contribution to tree planting, conservation and stewardship, the Arbor Day Foundation announced today.

This year's ceremony will be held at Lied Lodge & Conference Center, located at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, Nebraska, on Saturday, April 28.

The United States Forest Service will receive A Legacy of Partnership Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Foundation this year, and Governor Martin O'Malley will receive the first-ever Vision Award in honor of his contribution to urban and forestland tree planting in the State of Maryland.

From its inception, a legacy of partnership has been central to the mission of the U.S. Forest Service, and that same legacy extends to its work with the Arbor Day Foundation. With the Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters, the Forest Service in 1976 launched Tree City USA to provide resources and recognition to communities for sustained investments in tree management and care. Today, more than 140 million Americans in 3,500 communities live in a Tree City USA.

The U.S. Forest Service has supported the planting of 24 million trees in more than 60 of our national forests, in partnership with the Foundation. The support of the Forest Service was also instrumental in the construction of Lied Lodge and Conference Center at Arbor Day Farm, where many of the Foundation's core principles come to life.

Under Governor O'Malley's Marylanders Plant Trees program, citizens have planted more than 70,000 in just three years – 25,000 every year. In addition, following the damage of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, Governor O'Malley encouraged citizens to replant lost trees by offering a $25 coupon for the purchase of trees native to Maryland. More than 60,000 trees were planted following the disasters.

The Governor also worked with three states agencies to launch the Forest Brigade. Under the program, inmates in Maryland prisons have planted one million trees in the state's public lands. The work is done by inmates on the pathway to release, giving them a leg up on potential job skills while working to beautify the entire state with new trees.

Another recipient of a special honor is The Davey Tree Expert Company, which will be presented with a Beacon Award. With U.S. and Canadian operations in more than 45 states and five provinces, Davey Tree provides a variety of tree care, grounds maintenance and consulting services for the residential, commercial, utility and government markets. Founded in 1880, Davey Tree is employee-owned and has more than 7,000 employees. The company has also played a critical role in developing the i-Tree software suite to provide scientific analysis and benefits assessment for urban forestry advocates and managers.

Other recipients of a 2012 Arbor Day Award are as follows:

Dominion Energy's Project Plant It! program, based in Richmond, Virginia, will receive a Public Awareness of Trees Award for elevating the public awareness and understanding of the importance of trees. Dominion launched Project Plant It ( in 2007 to raise student awareness about the importance of caring for and planting trees. Since that time, the program has distributed more than 130,000 tree seedlings to elementary school students in nine states. Dominion's partner in the program, the Virginia Department of Forestry, estimates that 325 acres of new forestland will be added if all the seedlings are planted and grow to maturity. Project Plant It has received high-profile media coverage across several states, actively used social media and annually selects a third-grade program participant to become spokesperson.

Sacramento Urban Forestry Manager Joe Benassini will receive a Champion of Trees Award in recognition of his leadership in advancing effective forestry public policy. Under Benassini's leadership, Sacramento developed a complete street care and park tree inventory for the first time, and Benassini brought in outside experts to help train his staff to log work hours and tree history. Today, the Urban Forestry Division of the City of Sacramento is caring for more than double the number of trees it cared for just a few years ago, despite a challenging budget environment.

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, will receive an Excellence in Urban Forest Leadership Award in recognition of its innovative leadership in advancing sustainable community forestry efforts. Since 1827, the Society has motivated people to improve their quality of life and sense of community through horticulture. They sponsor the Tree Tenders program, which has played a critical role in restoring the tree canopy in Philadelphia. As of today, the Tree Tenders program has recruited 3,600 volunteer tree planters and 200 neighborhood groups. They engage their volunteers in a comprehensive approach, ensuring they are fully equipped to take care of trees once they are planted. A partnership with Keep America Beautiful is resulting in pilot programs that will yield national exposure.

The Montana-based Greater Yellowstone Whitebark Pine Committee will receive a Forest Lands Leadership Award in honor of its leadership in advancing sustainable forestry efforts on public forestland. Whitebark pine trees are critical to the ecosystem of the Greater Yellowstone Area, but the species faces several threats, including white pine blister rust, increasing pine beetle outbursts and competition from other forest species. As a result, the whitebark pine was added to the 2011 federal Endangered Specieis List, prompting the Greater Yellowstone Whitebark Pine Committee into action. The interagency Committee released a comprehensive Whitebark Pine Strategy to guide protection and restoration in 2011. The Strategy continues a robust monitoring program; has planted hundreds of acres in rust resistant whitebark pine and has collected over two million seeds for future planting.

Dr. James Middleton of Munfordville, Kentucky, will receive the Good Steward Award in recognition of stewardship and conservation on private land. To date, Dr. Middleton has planted more than 750,000 trees on his 3,000 acre property in Central Kentucky. In addition to their aesthetic contribution, many of the trees produce benefits felt miles downstream along the Green River, including reduced soil erosion, and 1,500 of Dr. Middleton's trees were planted solely to improve water quality. A prominent physician in his community, Dr. Middleton has also shared his love of trees with his patients over the years. Dr. Middleton received the 2010 Outstanding Forest Steward Award from the Kentucky Division of Forestry.

The Committed to Community Growth Program of Dallas, Texas, will receive the Excellence in Partnership Award in recognition of its innovative and strategic collaboration to advance forestry efforts. Launched in 2002, the Committed to Community Growth Program is a collaboration between TXU Energy, the Texas Tree Foundation and local governments across North Texas to plant, nurture and maintain community trees. Every year, more than 500 volunteers plant thousands of seedlings at the TXU Energy Urban Tree Farm and Education Center, located at Richland College in Dallas. Program leaders say they are on track to plant three million trees in some of the most populous areas of North Texas in the next 10 years.

Caitlin Bouse of Elmhurst, Illinois, will receive the Rachel Carson Award in recognition of her leadership in guiding and nurturing young people's sense of wonder about the natural world. Elmhurst Academy was certified as a Nature Explore classroom as a direct result of Bouse's leadership, and she also serves as Nature Curriculum Specialist for the school. She was named Formal Environmental Educator of the Year by the Environmental Education Association of Illinois for her role mentoring other teachers in the joys and benefits of outdoor education. Her involvement with the Children and Nature Network and the Nature Action Collaborative for Children, along with the many professional relationships she has nurtured, allow her to continually draw on the best practices in nature education.

World Vision Australia's Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration Program will receive an Award for Education Innovation in recognition of its successful education programs on the importance of trees and conservation. World Vision has helped people in some of the poorest parts of the world fight hunger and environmental degradation by planting and caring for trees. They help people identify "underground forests" that could sprout healthy trees given the right ingredients for growth. While people in many countries regularly chop shrubs and stumps for wood or use the land for grazing, World Vision teaches them to care for and re-vegetate to ensure the tree's survival. In Niger, more than three million hectares have been re-vegetated using World Vision's method.

RNeighborWoods of Rochester, Minnesota, will receive an Excellence in Volunteer Management Award in recognition of its outstanding efforts to mobilize and engage volunteers in tree planting and care within their community. Since 2004, RNeighborWoods has recruited volunteers and worked with partners and city officials throughout Rochester to plant and maintain community trees. The group, governed by a volunteer committee with insight from each partner, has planted 3,535 boulevard trees, with the help of thousands of community members. Volunteers have dedicated more than 9,000 hours of their time in total to planting trees in Rochester.

Florida Gulf Coast University of Ft. Myers, Florida, and Troop 367 and Pack 367 of Palmer, Alaska, will both receive an Arbor Day Celebration Award in recognition of representing the spirit of the tree planter's holiday. In 2009, Florida Gulf Coast University kicked off a tradition of Arbor Day celebrations and tree planting projects that have involved students, faculty and community members. The high level of enthusiasm and engagement led the campus to apply for and be recognized as a Tree Campus USA. The 2012 Florida Arbor Day celebration resulted in 40 new tree being planted to help shade Library Lawn, making the area a campus destination.

As the local Boy Scout and Cub Scout troops of small-town Palmer, Troop 367 and Pack 367 have taken the lead on making the community's annual Arbor Day celebration a model for communities throughout the nation. In 2011, one hundred people came out for Palmer's celebration from a variety of organizations. The youngest participant was a 7-year-old Tiger Cub from the Cub Scouts, who planted trees with a 97-year-old World War II veteran.

Retired Chicago Forester Bob Benjamin of Lombard, Illinois, will receive the Lawrence Enersen Award in recognition of his positive impact on the environment and lifelong commitment to tree planting and conservation at the local level. As a 33-year Chicago Bureau of Forestry employee, Benjamin guided the decisions that have made the Windy City a model for tree care and urban beauty. Benjamin wrote the city's first tree planting manual, assisting city staff, residents and business owners with the "how to" of proper planting and care. The manual served as a basis for the street guide portion of Chicago's landscape ordinance. Benjamin was also a strong proponent of planting trees in parking lots, years before the "heat-island effect" was widely discussed. He has been active in his field at the national and international level, serving as historian and a member of the planning team for the Society of Municipal Arborists and a liaison to the International Society of Arboriculture.

Retired Urban Forester Ralph Campbell of Westminster, Colorado, will receive the Frederick Law Olmsted Award in recognition of his lifelong commitment to tree planting and conservation at the state level. A 35-year veteran of the Colorado Forest Service, Campbell was an active leader in urban forestry. He helped establish Colorado's Urban and Community Forestry program, and later helped develop the Colorado Tree Coalition, which has received 425 grants worth $650,000, and matched them with $7.5 million in community contributions. He has also sponsored seasonal tree planting for underprivileged youth in the Denver area. In 1995, Campbell was named an Outstanding Performer by the Colorado Forest Service, the highest possible honor.

Since 1972, the Arbor Day Foundation has recognized the inspiring and life-changing work of leading environmental stewards and tree planters through the annual Arbor Day Awards.

Award winners from previous years include the late Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, veteran newsman Bill Kurtis, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Mary Kay, Inc. This year, in addition to honoring Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley with a Vision Award, A Legacy of Partnership Award will be presented to the United States Forest Service.


About the Arbor Day Foundation: The Arbor Day Foundation is a nonprofit conservation and education organization of one million members, with the mission to inspire people to plant, nurture and celebrate trees. More information on the Foundation and its programs can be found at, or by visiting us on Facebook, Twitter or our blog.

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