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Arbor Day Foundation Honors 13 Individuals and Organizations for Tree Planting and Conservation

date 04/16/15

For more information, contact

Jeff Salem, Director of Communications & Public Relations,   email

Nebraska City, Neb. (April 16, 2015) – Thirteen individuals and organizations are the recipients of a 2015 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 25.

2015 Arbor Day Award winners are:

California Governor Jerry Brown is the recipient of the Champion of Trees Public Service Award. Governor Brown has played a key role in establishing community forestry in California. During his first term, The Urban Forestry Act of 1978 created an urban forestry program through state law. Since again becoming Governor in 2011, Brown has continued his legacy leading to historic funding levels for California's Urban and Community Forestry Program. Brown signed a state budget on June 20, 2014 containing 17.8 million dollars for urban and community forestry – the largest one-year, single-state allocation for urban forestry in the entire history of the United States.

Evan Barnard is the recipient of the Award for Education Innovation. Barnard, a 16 year-old junior at Johns Creek, Georgia, High School, began his conservation work on a Braille trail -- a nature trail with Braille signage and guide ropes to improve access for the visually impaired. The ability for the visually impaired to walk freely along a trail is a unique opportunity for those usually unable to enjoy the forest.

Dr. Nina Bassuk is the recipient of the Frederick Law Olmsted Award. Dr. Bassuk's focus includes the development of bare root transplanting technology and CU-Structural Soil -- a patented mix for urban environments engineered by Dr. Bassuk and her colleagues at Cornell University to provide rooting area for street trees, thereby decreasing tree mortality. Owing to her efforts, thousands of trees have been planted around the world in conditions that would not have otherwise supported trees.

Friends of Trees is the recipient of the recipient of the Excellence in Partnership Award. Friends of Trees develops programs in partnership with the private and public sectors, communities, and individuals to maintain a healthy environment through sustaining urban and rural forests. Friends of Trees has effectively facilitated tree planting partnerships for more than two decades.

Mary Kay, Inc. is the recipient of the Promise to the Earth Award. Mary Kay's generous financial support has supported the planting of nearly one million trees that have restored important forest watersheds and vital wildlife habitat across the nation. Mary Kay has been a critical steward to five National Forests –Bitterroot National Forest in Montana and Idaho, the Huron-Manistee National Forests in Michigan, Pike National Forest in Colorado, and, in California, Plumas National Forest and San Bernardino National Forest – and the initial long-term and significant commitment to the Lost Pines Forest Recovery Campaign on Bastrop State Park.

W.S. Merwin is the recipient of the Good Steward Award. During nearly 40 years on Maui, W.S. Merwin has planted a 19-acre botanical garden of palm trees, cultivating by hand what is now a rainforest recognized as one of the largest and most extensive private collections in the world. The Merwin Palm Collection boasts some 3,000 palm trees representing more than 400 species and nearly 900 different varieties. Merwin has, on average, planted one tree each day for more than three decades. The impact of Merwin's work reflects the values of wilderness, the stillness of nature, and our personal connection to the natural world. Through his long-standing outreach efforts, his message has spread far and wide and inspired thousands to conservation.

Michigan Arbor Day Alliance is the recipient of the Arbor Day Celebration Award. The Michigan Arbor Day Alliance has long coordinated Michigan's Arbor Day Celebration, as they've led the festivities for the past twenty-two years. During the past decade, this long-standing tradition has seen between 1,000 and 1,200 second and third graders descend upon Potter Park Zoo in Lansing to participate each and every year.

Missouri Department of Conservation is the recipient of the Public Awareness of Trees Award. The Missouri Department of Conservation is increasing the public awareness and understanding of the everyday benefits that trees provide. Their innovative "Trees Work" campaign reinforces the value of trees by encouraging Missourians to talk to one another about the benefits of trees.

Howard Neukrug is the recipient of the Excellence in Urban Forest Leadership Award. Neukrug, with the vital support of city agencies, and public and private partners, helped to create Green City, Clean Waters (GCCW), a comprehensive, community enhancing green stormwater management plan that boosts the sustainability and greening goals of Philadelphia's overarching Greenworks Plan. GCCW's Green Streets component uses trees to supplement the work of traditional storm drains to manage street runoff, resulting in newly tree lined streets. GCCW trees are multi-taskers as they manage stormwater, enhance air quality, improve property values and beautify Philadelphia neighborhoods

Pike National Forest is the recipient of the Forest Lands Leadership Award. Pike National Forest's Rocky Mountain Watershed Protection Project seeks to restore forest resiliency within 40,000 acres of critical watersheds on National Forest and private lands. The goal: a healthier forest, improved water quality, and restored wildlife habitat, shelter, and migration corridors. The Project is exploring innovative ways of building a more resilient forest. The impressive results – trees planted, wetlands restored, and volunteers engaged. There is now an understanding that a healthy forest protects valuable resources such as clean drinking water for current and future generations.

John Royster is the recipient of the Lawrence Enersen Award. Royster has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to serving his community as a tree planter, promoter and protector. During his 30 year career as a landscape architect, Royster has been committed to conservation. By focusing on trees, one site at a time, John has made a profound impact on the Omaha region and beyond. He's made public engagement a priority, providing a platform to educate people about the importance of their actions to environmental quality.

Sherry Trebus/Workforce Solutions is the recipient of the Rachel Carson Award. Workforce Solutions is a government agency that delivers programs to enhance employment, which includes ensuring there are quality childcare programs available to working families. With Sherry's foresight and leadership, the Workforce solutions team used this challenge to commit to providing early childhood professional training and financial support to help programs meet accreditation standards. To ensure the best possible results, they committed to incorporating a focus on nature – both indoors and out.

Yampa Valley Sustainability Council is the recipient of the Excellence in Volunteer Management Award. ReTree Steamboat, a partnership between the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council and the Colorado State Forest Service, is an annual tree planting and care event. The 2014 ReTree saw 285 community volunteers, including 160 youth, plant nearly 1,400 trees. Since the 2010 inaugural event, Yampa Valley Sustainability Council has engaged some 2,000 volunteers to plant and care for 21,000 trees.

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, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, the United States Forest Service, and Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

About the Arbor Day Foundation: The Arbor Day Foundation is a million member nonprofit conservation and education organization with the mission to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. More information is available at


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