National Arbor Day Foundation Announces Annual Awards

Bill Kurtis, of Chicago, Illinois
Winner of the Foundation's highest individual honor, the J. Sterling Morton Award for exemplary conservation work at the national or international level. In a broadcast career spanning decades, Kurtis has served as a CBS News anchor and reporter. Today his company, Kurtis Productions, produces shows exclusively for the A & E Network, with a strong emphasis on conservation and the environment. Topics of his Investigative Reports program have included global warming and rain forest protection. Kurtis, who has been awarded both Emmy and Peabody Awards, is also a conservationist on his own property, which includes his preservation of 5,000 acres of tall-grass prairie in southern Kansas and creation of a 20-acre garden at his home in Chicago.

Georgia Governor Roy Barnes recipient of one of two Frederick Law Olmsted Awards. The award recognizes work at the state or regional level that exemplifies commitment to tree planting and conservation in the improvement of America's communities and landscapes. Governor Barnes, an advocate of creating greenspaces and protecting tree canopy, originated the Georgia Greenspace Program with the vision of communities laced with open and connected green areas. Entitled the Georgia Greenspace statute, the program was signed into law in April of 2000, with more than 1.7 million acres of land being preserved since that time. Governor Barnes was also instrumental in the creation of a statewide grove of Millennium Trees as well as the Georgia's Governors Grove.

Phil Hoefer, of Ft. Collins, Colorado
Winner of the second 2002 Frederick Law Olmsted Award for outstanding conservation work at the state or regional level. Hoefer recently retired from more than 25 years of service with the Colorado Forest Service, leaving a conservation legacy that has led his peers to call him one of the fathers of the urban forestry movement. His efforts have contributed to the formation of many tree boards, the writing of countless tree ordinances, and the better coordination of tree planting efforts and other urban forestry projects. He was also key in the creation of the Colorado Tree Coalition and has worked with youth and minority groups to foster their involvement in community forestry.

James W. Johnson, of Custer City, Pennsylvania
Recipient of a 2002 Lawrence Enersen Award for outstanding tree planting and conservation work at the community level. Widely recognized for his conservation leadership, including a 1995 President's Service Award, Johnson launched the Environmental Youth Program in 1982. The program both educates young people about environmental conservation and instills citizenship values. Through the Environmental Youth program, nearly 10,000 young adults have learned about forestry, soil and water conservation, and fish and wildlife management. His leadership has resulted in nearly 40,000 hours of volunteer conservation work across Pennsylvania, New York, and Virginia.

Janet McCormick, of Evansville, Indiana
Winner of the second 2002 Lawrence Enersen Award for her Acorns for America campaign. Each year McCormick collects thousands of acorns and grows approximately 15,000 oak seedlings in her back yard, for distribution to friends, business associates, and others. She also provides trees to area organizations for free give-away's. In addition, she makes her 'Tree Growing Kits' available to area scout, church, and school groups, and gives thousands of germinating acorns to schools for planting projects.

Matthew Evans, of Washington, D.C.
Winner of a Good Steward Award in recognition of those who practice stewardship through their conservation work on private property. Evans is the senior landscape architect and horticulturist of the United States Capitol, where he has worked for the last 10 years. He has also been appointed landscape architect of the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress. He and his staff care for, maintain, and preserve the 283 acres of these national landmarks, including the 58-acre Capitol Square designed by conservationist Frederick Law Olmsted. Evans oversaw the planting of an oak as America's National Tree on Arbor Day 2001 on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol building.

Diane K. Virdee, of West Sacramento, California
Winner of the second 2002 Good Steward Award for her agroforestry work on her own farm and her new arboretum project. Virdee operated a Christmas tree farm until 1996, when she converted her land to a fruit, nut, and landscape tree operation. A portion of her farm is now being converted to an arboretum, complete with educational materials for visitors. Throughout her tree farming experience, she has opened her farm to area school children and others interested in learning about the importance of trees to the environment.

'Trees For Menlo: the Millennium Mile'
A project based in Menlo Park, California, is the recipient of the 2002 Lady Bird Johnson award, given for exemplary leadership in roadside beautification. In the 1990's, Trees For Menlo was instrumental in turning a treeless, four-lane stretch of Santa Cruz Avenue into a two-lane road with a median filled with trees. The success of this project led the group to undertake the greening of El Camino Real, a roadway that dates back to the time of the Spanish missions and which runs the entire length of California. Trees for Menlo is now spearheading an effort to green the portion of the highway that runs through Menlo Park, with the first phase of the planting taking place in early 2001.

Denver Digs Trees, Denver, Colorado
Recipient of one of six 2002 Project Awards in recognition of outstanding collaborative efforts involving tree planting and environmental stewardship. Denver Digs Trees, a program of the volunteer organization Park People, is dedicated to planting street trees, training volunteers in proper tree planting and care, and educating the public about the benefits of urban trees. Each April the group also distributes low-cost shade trees for planting along the streets in the City and County of Denver.

The L.A. Conservation Corps' Urban Reforestation Project, Los Angeles, California,
Winner of a 2002 Project Award. The project was started in 1999 to work with local community groups, residents, and at-risk youth in underserved neighborhoods of Los Angeles. It provides both funding and technical expertise to the tree-planting process while allowing community groups to help design the planting project and recruit resident volunteers. The Urban Reforestation Project is an effort of the Los Angeles Conservation Corps, an organization founded in 1986 by former Secretary of Commerce Mickey Kantor to educate and train inner city teens and young adults while improving the environment in Los Angeles.

Armenia Tree Project, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts
Winner of a Project Award for its work in reforesting Armenia following its political, social, and economic devastation during the early 1990's. With the collapse of the Soviet economy, and the loss of many resources, including energy sources, Armenians were forced to cut nearly three million trees for fuelwood. The Project solicits funds to aid in the reforestation of the country and to increase the food supply, improve the environment, and create jobs and economic growth in Armenia.

The Lower Northside & Depot Neighbors Association, La Crosse, Wisconsin
Honored with a Project Award for their work in promoting the City of Lacrosse's little known boulevard tree program. With the involvement of the Neighbors Association in both publicizing and helping organize the program, more trees were planted in 2001 than ever before. More than 120 trees were planted, and a waiting list has been created for people wanting trees in 2002.

Maria Birdseye, of Lilburn, Georgia
A seventh grade teacher at Shiloh Middle School in Gwinnett County, Georgia, recognized with a Project Award for working with her students to distribute trees to people in her area. Each year Birdseye, using funds raised through recycling efforts at the school, orders 1,000 trees from the Georgia Forestry Commission and works with her students to separate, bag, and distribute the trees.

The Cascade Pacific Council of the Boy Scouts of America, in Corbett, Oregon
Recipient of the final 2002 Project Award. While Boy Scouts from the Council have participated in planting trees on idle lands since the 1930's, these efforts became more organized in the 1970's. In 1994 the Council celebrated its one-millionth tree planting, with a celebration scheduled for April 2002 to commemorate the group's two-millionth planting. Nearly 250 scout troops participate in the yearly plantings, held each Saturday from February through May.

Growing Your Future: An Environmental Career Day Planning Guide, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Winner of a 2002 Education Award that is designed to recognize educational programs which are worthy models for others. Now in its third year, The Grow Your Future Career Day is a one-day event for 200 Philadelphia eighth graders and their teachers that encourages students to stay in school and explore career possibilities in natural sciences and horticulture. Students attend lectures and presentations, visiting stations staffed by experts in environmental career fields.

The GREEN (GRowing Environmental Education Now) Teachers Institute, Oxford, Ohio
Recipient of the second 2002 Education Award for its annual teacher-education program that has been in existence for 14 years. The program has openings for nearly 140 educators at three levels of expertise each year. The Institute gathers during a two-week period to help teachers become more knowledgeable in the areas of life and environmental sciences. The first level emphasizes hands-on learning activities, while the advanced level is inquiry-driven and field-oriented, taking teachers out into the south-western Ohio landscape. The third, or masters, level workshop is held in Costa Rica where participants study the varying life zones of this tropical ecosystem. The result is a greater number of teachers each year who are well equipped to help educate students and other teachers in mini-workshops back home about the importance of environmental conservation.

Eagle Eye Institute for Trees Are My Friends, Somerville, Massachusetts
Recipient of the 2002 Advertising/Public Relations Award in recognition of its public service announcement campaign. The Institute received a USDA Forest Service grant to provide a vehicle for reaching a targeted audience consisting of people of color in urban areas, in order to educate them about the value of city trees. The spot encouraged viewers to participate in tree care and planting activities and was based on the song Trees Are My Friends, written by Anthony Sanchez, founder of the Eagle Eye Institute. This year the PSA aired in over 100 metro areas, reaching an estimated audience of 20 million people.

Finding The Forest, a book written by Peter Bundy, a certified Minnesota forester and owner of Masconomo Forestry, of Crosby, Minnesota
Winner of a 2002 Media Award. The Media Award recognizes the power of the media to capture the attention and imagination of the viewing, listening, and reading public. Finding The Forest provides a look at the woodland owner using Bundy's experience as he takes the reader on a journey through his north wood forest. Part spiritual, part philosophical and part technical, this book incorporates some history of forestry into a tale of how human intervention can provide a positive force for sustainability of this great resource.

Enduring Roots
Winner of the second 2002 Media Award, written by Gayle Brandow Samuels and published by Rutgers University Press, Piscataway, New Jersey. Subtitled 'Encounters with Trees, History, and the American Landscape,' Samuels' book takes a look at some of the native trees that have helped shape history as well as stories that have helped Americans develop a sense of pride and a human connection with trees.

Arbor Daze, Euless, Texas
Winner of one of two Celebration Awards for programs that best represent the spirit of the tree planters' holiday. Previously recognized with a Celebration Award in 1994, the city of Euless, Texas has continued to expand and offer new elements to its annual Arbor Daze Celebration. In 2000, the city commissioned a large bronze sculpture for showcase at City Hall of a family planting a tree. Over 20,000 seedlings were provided to the first of 150,000 attendees at Arbor Daze. The spirit of the tree planter's holiday is kept alive all year long by the Arbor Daze Road Show, which visits every fourth grade class in the area distributing tree identification exercises and information on tree planting and care.

Millennium Tree Celebration, of the Sacramento Tree Foundation, of Sacramento, California
Recognized with this year's second Celebration Award. During this two-day celebration, 3,000 people helped plant one-million trees, the last planted on National Arbor Day in front of City Hall. The Sacramento Tree Foundation also created a children's activity book titled 'Trees Take Care of Us' that incorporated tree lessons into various school subjects. There was also a photography and essay contest for students, and the event involved children in the growing of oak seedlings for distribution during the event.

Deluxe Corporation, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Recipient of the 2002 Promise to the Earth Award. The award recognizes sustained commitment and leadership by a corporation that joins with the Arbor Day Foundation on special projects. Deluxe, the world's largest producer of consumer checks, donates the proceeds of its 'Arbor Day' line to support the Arbor Day Foundation's tree planting mission.