Nebraska City, Neb. (April 23, 2013) – Fourteen individuals and organizations are recipients of a 2013 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 27.
Kemba Shakur, executive director of the Oakland, California, based Urban ReLeaf, will receive the J. Sterling Morton Award, the highest honor given by the Foundation.
Shakur works daily with low-income communities to plant trees, mentor young people and build neighborhood leaders, and Urban ReLeaf has distributed more than 15,000 trees in total. When Shakur saw that no one else was planting trees in her west Oakland neighborhood, she started to plant them herself. She continued planting in her front yard, on her block, in her neighborhood and eventually throughout the City of Oakland.
Shakur has also made long-term research a priority, working directly with the University of California Davis, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the California Department of Water Resources and the USDA Forest Service.
UPS is the recipient of the Promise to the Earth Award. Working with some of the largest environmental organizations in the world, UPS has supported the planting of more than half a million trees in dozens of countries. UPS also joined a number of public and private groups in donating $200,000 to fund tree planting for the Flight 93 Memorial Project, a twenty-two hundred acre national park in Pennsylvania commemorating those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.
Eden Reforestation Projects, a nonprofit based in Glendora, California, is the recipient of the Award for Education Innovation. With operations in Haiti, Ethiopia and Madagascar, Eden Projects have supported the planting of 57 million trees and created job opportunities for 3,500 full and partial season employees. Under the Eden Projects model, seedlings are grown, planted as young trees and nurtured to maturity by local residents trained to act as "guards" for the emerging forests.
The City of Punta Gorda, Florida, is the recipient of the Arbor Day Celebration Award. The community-wide event in this city of 16,000 is a model for tree-planting for cities of all sizes. About 300 Punta Gorda first graders participate every year, gaining exposure to a variety of activities and educational materials about the importance of trees.
Dr. Waddell Barnes is the recipient of the Lawrence Enersen Award. Within months of the tragic tornado that struck Middle Georgia State College, formerly Macon State College, and much of its tree canopy, Dr. Barnes helped develop plans to rebuild the original landscape, gardens and trees. He launched a "Campus ReLeaf" campaign, ultimately raising tens of thousands of dollars despite a challenging economy.
The Alliance for Community Trees, based in College Park, Maryland, is the recipient of the Public Awareness of Trees Award. ACTrees is committed to improving the urban forest environment in cities and towns. The non-profit group celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, and National Neighhorwoods Month in October remains an important community gathering. Last year, more than 800 volunteer events were coordinated by local partners in 290 cities.
Donna Love and Lakeshore Learning Materials are both recipients of the Rachel Carson Award. Under Love's leadership, three certified Nature Explore Classrooms were constructed at Hurlburt and Cannon Air Force bases. Love also worked with the Nature Explore program to set up trainings for personnel staff on other Air Force bases, creating new advocates across the country. As a result of her efforts, the Department of Defense is working with Nature Explore on sixty new classrooms, an impact that will be felt for generations to come. Through keynote addresses and conferences, Lakeshore President Kevin Carnes makes the case that outdoor learning classrooms achieve large-scale impact in spaces large and small, and on a reasonable budget. The inspiration starts at company headquarters in Carson, California, where the company built a Nature Explore classroom at Lakeshore's on-site preschool serving the children of employees, helping to make research-based outdoor learning a part of children's daily lives. The inspiration for outdoor learning has also spread to Lakeshore's network of employees and customers in other states.
Plant With Purpose, a non-profit based in San Diego, California, is the recipient of the Good Steward Award. With projects in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Mexico, Tanzania, Burundi and Thailand, Plant With Purpose pursues solutions that preserve land for future generations without harming jobs and livelihoods. Their pioneering work to bring clean stoves –designed to conserve energy and wood, while reducing harmful fumes – has already improved lives and livelihoods.
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is the recipient of the Excellence in Volunteer Management Award. Following a May 2011 tornado, the board led several critical volunteer events to replace the lost trees, with saplings brought in from around the country. Nearly five hundred people volunteered from neighborhood, civic and corporate groups, meeting the goal of 1,100 new trees planted.
Friends of Grand Rapids Parks is the recipient of the Excellence in Urban Forest Leadership Award. In early 2012, the group began working with city officials on the "Urban Forest Project." The project included a crowd-sourced tree map and a review of the city's existing tree ordinance. Hundreds of Grand Rapids residents have already contributed to – and reaped the benefits – of the innovative tool.
The Florida Forest Service, based in Tallahassee, Florida, is the recipient of the Forest Lands Leadership Award. The Florida Forest Service plants millions of trees every year, managing complex ecosystems and serving as a model for state forest agencies throughout the country. The agency has been particularly aggressive in combating forest fires by anticipating disasters and running controlled fires in their place, as well as quickly and effectively replanting native species.
Indiana University Professor Burnell Fischer is the recipient of the Frederick Law Olmsted Award. Hundreds of Indiana communities – both large and small – developed urban forestry programs and hired professional staff as a direct result of his leadership and vision. Dr. Fischer was also instrumental to the growth of the Tree Campus USA program, which provides resources and recognition for colleges and universities that make tree care a priority.
The Lost Pines Forest Recovery Campaign, based in College Station, Texas, is the recipient of the Excellence in Partnership Award. The Lost Pines Forest Recovery Campaign is a multi-year, public-private partnership with the goal of raising sufficient funds to plant more than 4 million trees on public and private land destroyed in the September 2011 wildfire. The partnership is comprised of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas A&M Forest Service and the Arbor Day Foundation.
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 USDA Forest Service, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Mary Kay, Inc.
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 arborday.org, or by visiting us on Facebook at facebook.com/arborday or Twitter at twitter.com/arborday.