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date 04/13/98

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Jeff Salem, Director of Communications & Public Relations,   email

Nebraska City, Neb., April 13, 1998--Leaders in tree planting and care from around the country and world will be honored by The National Arbor Day Foundation at its 26th annual Arbor Day Awards celebration held here on Saturday, April 25. The awards ceremony is part of the Arbor Day weekend celebration held in Nebraska City from April 24-26.

Award winners are recognized for their leadership in the cause of tree planting, conservation, and environmental stewardship. The 1998 National Arbor Day Award honorees are:

--Joseph Borg, principal agriculture officer of the Mediterranean island of Malta, and the recipient of the J. Sterling Morton Award for exemplary conservation work at the national or international level, the Arbor Day Foundation's highest honor. He is being recognized for more than 25 years of work to reforest his island and to design public gardens and green spaces in Malta's cities, and for his innovative plant propagation programs.

--Mary Louise Michie, Fort Worth, Texas, winner of the first annual Caroline French Morton Award to recognize volunteer leadership in mobilizing people in tree planting. As its president from 1995-1997, she became the voice for "Millions of Trees for the Environment," a tree-planting program of the National Council of State Garden Clubs. During her presidency, nearly 109 million trees were planted in the United States, Mexico and Latin America, and in Arbor Day 1996 celebrations, 8,000 garden clubs planted white flowering trees as a living memorial to those killed in the Oklahoma City bombings.

--Patti Armstrong, Bucyrus, Kan., winner of the Frederick Law Olmsted Award for exemplary tree planting and conservation work at the state or regional level. Her commitment to tree-planting ranges from her early volunteer work with her sons' Cub Scout troops to civic leadership in Minnesota and Kansas, and her service to the Kansas Forest Service, Kansas Urban Forestry Council, and the National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council.

--Don Ellis, Bristol, Tenn., winner of one of this year's three Lawrence Enersen Awards for outstanding tree planting and conservation work at the community level. A dentist who has long distinguished himself for volunteer leadership, he was instrumental in the planting of more than one million trees in Bristol between 1989 and 1996 and for helping his community become a Tree City USA.

--Max Ontjes, Hutchinson, Kan., also a winner of a 1998 Lawrence Enersen Award for his work in reforesting Hutchinson after an ice storm destroyed 40 percent of the city's trees. In addition, he worked to replace dying elm trees and now owns several farms where he raises trees for future planting by his community.

--Steve Sandfort, Cincinnati, Ohio, winner of a 1998 Lawrence Enersen Award. He is an urban forester who began his career with the Georgia Forestry Commission and later left a lasting mark on Cincinnati as its city forester. Under his guidance, today eight trees are planted for every one removed in Cincinnati, and all 60,000 of the city's street trees are on a six-year maintenance schedule. Sandfort is a widely known speaker and writer on forestry issues and in 1993 planned and hosted the first National Youth Environmental Summit.

--the Plan Piloto Forestal de Tres Garantias, of Quintana Roo, Mexico, a sustainable forest project that is the winner of one of two 1998 Good Steward Awards from The National Arbor Day Foundation. The award recognizes those who practice stewardship through their preservation work on private property. The villages of Quintana Roo manage the Plan Piloto, which was established on 50,000 acres of natural tropical forest on the Yucatan Peninsula. They are commended for their sustainable harvesting and use of the region's trees and other renewable resources.

--Chester Thigpen, Montrose, Mississippi, winner of this year's second Good Steward Award. He is commended for a lifetime of agricultural and forestry work, as exemplified in his conversion of 850 depleted acres of soil into a lush area of tree farms.

--Eglin Air Force Base, Niceville, Florida, winner of one of five Project Awards in recognition of outstanding collaborative projects involving tree planting and environmental stewardship. Eglin is commended for supporting its military mission while restoring the longleaf pine forest ecosystems that are basic to many of the earth's most endangered creatures. In the past two years alone, 3.9 million longleaf pine seedlings have been planted on the base.

--Growing Friends of Helena, Mont., a volunteer tree planting organization and the recipient of a Project Award for their involvement in more than 100 tree planting projects in the last seven years. Growing Friends, a matching grant organization, has invested nearly $45,000 in the community's future.

--the Linnaeus Arboretum, St. Peter, Minnesota, winner of a Project Award. The award recognizes the beauty of this 55-acre arboretum, located on the campus of Gustavus Adolphus College, that today boasts more than 3,500 trees. The project has been guided and designed by Drs. Charles and Harriet Mason, and carried out through multi-community involvement and an innovative approach to education, conservation and stewardship. The arboretum celebrates its 25th anniversary in April, 1998.

--the New Jersey Community Forestry Assistance Act, Trenton, New Jersey, winner of a Project Award for encouraging the formation of community shade tree commissions. This act, proposed by Michael D'Errico, urban forestry coordinator for the state, became a state law in 1996 and provides shade commissions immunity from litigation caused by the condition of the state's community trees. The act also provides for the establishment of the New Jersey Shade Tree and Community Forestry Program.

--Donald and Nancy Panoz, Braselton, Georgia, designers of Chateau Elan luxury resort, winners of a Project Award for their conservation of trees. In the construction of the property's vineyards and four golf courses, more than 6,000 trees were saved, with 2,500 trees being moved for their protection in the building of one course alone.

--the China Schools Demonstration Forest, of South China, Maine, one of three winners of 1998 Arbor Day Foundation Education Awards, designed to recognize educational programs that are worthy models for others. Located on 70 acres behind the China Primary and Middle Schools, the forest is owned and managed by the students, teachers, and citizens of South China, Maine. This working forest holds 11 teaching stations, with five more currently planned.

--Earth Angels, St. Louis, Missouri, a group of young people who have formed a program of conservation education, neighborhood rehabilitation, and gangs-and-drug avoidance. They received an Education Award for their conservation and tree planting work, with some of their better known St. Louis projects being an inner city garden, a butterfly garden, and a section of forest known as the Forest of Life.

--Missouri Forestkeepers Network, St. Louis, Missouri, recipient of an Education Award for their volunteer work in monitoring forest health. The Network is a joint education program of the Missouri Department of Conservation and Forest ReLeaf of Missouri. Members from across the state, from all professions and of all ages provide a free statewide reporting team for the health of the state's trees.

--the Georgia Forestry Association and its public relations and advertising campaign "On Your Mark, Get Set, Grow Georgia," winners of the 1998 Advertising and Public Relations Award from The National Arbor Day Foundation. The vehicle for this promotion was a record-setting tree planting event--with 158 volunteers planting 14,000 tree seedlings at the Charlie Elliot Wildlife Center in under four hours--on Georgia's Arbor Day 1997.

--Chief Jake Swamp, Hog

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