Nebraska City, Neb. -- Leaders in tree planting and environmental stewardship from around the country will be honored by The National Arbor Day Foundation at its 31st annual Arbor Day Awards banquet held on Saturday, April 26. The awards ceremony is part of the Arbor Day weekend celebration held each year in Nebraska City, the birthplace of Arbor Day.
Award winners are recognized for their leadership in the cause of tree planting, conservation, and environmental stewardship. The 2003 National Arbor Day Award honorees are:
-- Stewart L. Udall, Santa Fe, New Mexico, winner of the J. Sterling Morton Award. The Morton Award is the Foundation's highest individual honor, given for exemplary work at the international or national levels. Udall served as Secretary of the Interior under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, and has long been considered one of Americas foremost environmental visionaries. As Interior Secretary, he was instrumental in passing the Wilderness Bill and the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, as well as helping expand the National Park System to include new national parks, monuments, seashores and lakeshores, and wildlife refuges. He also served four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. Since retiring from public service, he has remained active in environmental issues through his work as a naturalist, historian, lawyer, author, lecturer, educator, and activist.
-- Gustaaf van der Hoeven, Manhattan, Kansas, 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 work for the improvement of America's communities and landscapes. Van der Hoeven served as landscape specialist for the State of Kansas from 1974 to 2000. During that time he wrote many cooperative extension publications and articles for national publication, hosted weekly radio and television programs, and was a speaker at more than 1,000 workshops and seminars. His landscape designs have helped transform communities throughout Kansas.
-- Charles W. Finkl, of Chicago, Illinois, posthumous winner of the second 2003 Frederick Law Olmsted Award for outstanding conservation work at the state or regional level. Finkl initiated the Forging a Fresher America program in 1989, which planted enough trees to absorb the carbon dioxide emitted by the A. Finkl & Sons steel manufacturing plant. Finkl soon created a green oasis around the manufacturing facility, and planted trees in state parks in Illinois and Wisconsin, as well as along the streets of Chicago. Today, more than 4 million trees have been planted through Forging a Fresher America, with thousands more given to area YMCA's.
-- Barnett and Edna King, of Luverne, Alabama, winners of a Good Steward Award in recognition of those who practice stewardship through their conservation work on private lands. Barnett and Edna have purchased and restored property since 1957, planting trees on eroded areas and returning sites to their natural state. They have planted 260 acres in longleaf and loblolly pines, four acres of hardwoods, and have 30 acres devoted to wildlife food plots. They also turned 85 acres into an environmental education trail, complete with amphitheater classrooms, bridges, and ponds. The trail is handicap accessible and a frequent destination for area school groups and Scout troops.
-- The Devendorf Family, of Midway, Georgia, winners of the second 2003 Good Steward Award. Laura, Don, and Meredith Devendorf are stewards to approximately 10,000 acres of coastal land they have owned since the early 1970s. Since then, they have committed themselves to making the land a model of sustainable forestry, superior wildlife habitat, and responsible conservation. Their property is one of the few intact examples of southeastern coastal ecosystem, with pristine salt marshes and upland pine and mixed hardwood forest. They also maintain a working, certified, and sustainable tree farm, managing it for watershed and wildlife habitat, with more than 300 species of neotropical birds found there. They recently planted 40 acres of longleaf pine to establish a roosting habitat for the threatened Wood Stork and have created a nature center that hosts more than 1,500 visitors a year.
-- The Sacramento, California, Northern Railroad Parkway, winner of the 2003 Lady Bird Johnson award for exemplary leadership in roadside beautification. The Parkway was begun in 1992 when the Sacramento City Council approved the proposal to turn an abandoned railroad right-of-way from a dumping ground into a bike path and walkway. With funding from the Federal Transportation Enhancement Act and the support of the Sacramento Tree Foundation, the five-mile, 77-acre bike trail conversion was accomplished. In 1996, hundreds of volunteers planted 3,500 trees along the trail. Continued volunteer support has resulted in a success rate of 78 percent for the young trees.
-- The Sacramento, California, International Airport, recipient of one of six 2003 Project Awards in recognition of outstanding collaborative efforts involving tree planting and environmental stewardship. The airport instituted a beautification plan in 1994 that has transformed the grounds into a home for more than 9,000 trees, including 6,000 new trees representing more than 50 varieties. Trees have been planted in groves, which creates a more natural effect. Green waste is recycled, with pruned limbs being mulched for use around trees. As the facility grows, trees in the path of construction are transplanted to other locations on airport grounds or donated to local parks and other public facilities.
-- Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful Neighborwoods Project, Lawrenceville, Georgia, winner of a 2003 Project Award. Started in 2001 and funded by Keep America Beautiful and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, Neighborwoods helps educate area residents about the importance of trees and greenspace. Through the Neighborwoods program, trees are distributed to help reduce the heat island effect. In 2001, some 1,500 oak and maple trees were planted through Neighborwoods, with plans to distribute and plant 1,800 trees in 2003. In addition, 200,000 people learned about the benefits of urban forestry through Neighborwoods.
-- Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, Albany, Georgia, winner of a Project Award for its work in replanting and revitalizing the hospitals urban area. In 1999, the area was designated a 'Weed and Seed' district as part of a federal program for inner city neighborhoods. Putney Hospital joined with Keep America Beautiful and the Arcadia District Neighborhood Association in planting more than 700 trees and shrubs on Arbor Day, 1999. The hospital has also donated vacant land that is now a community garden, growing food for local soup kitchens. In addition, the hospital sponsors tree plantings and helps maintain the surrounding community forest.
-- Shared Streams in Maine, a series of projects developed by the American Forest Foundation, Washington, D.C., winner of a Project Award for its collaborative work in improving habitat conditions for the endangered Maine Atlantic salmon. Shared Streams in Maine works with private forest owners to restore and sustain indigenous habitat of the salmon that has been lost to increased forestry activity. Practices implemented on four certified tree farms are being used as models of stream improvement techniques for other landowners. The program is administered through a partnership between the American Tree Farm System, Trout Unlimited, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the Maine Forest Service.
-- Green Scene, Waterloo, Iowa, recognized with a Project Award for its work in preserving, reforesting, and advocating the improvement of the physical environment of Black Hawk County, Iowa. Green Scene is a volunteer organization created in 1976 in response to the destruction caused by Dutch Elm disease. Today, as a result of income raised through annual plant sales, the organization sponsors tree plantings throughout the county through Arbor Day celebrations, county beautification projects, and street tree planting programs. Green Scene members also worked hard to achieve Tree City USA status for each community in the county.
-- The Environmental Protection Agency's Brownfields Program, headquartered in Washington, D.C., recipient of the final 2003 Project Award. The program encourages redevelopment of America's 450,000 to 600,000 abandoned, contaminated sites, including the conversion of industrial waterfronts to riverfront parks, landfills to golf courses, and rail corridors to thriving greenways. More than 44 different brown-to-green projects are in various stages of completion. The Brownfields Program provides funding incentives, feasibility tools, and an additional $50,000 to $200,000 to communities to convert properties into green, open space.
-- The Friends of Jefferson the Beautiful's Tree School, Metarie, Louisiana, winner of a 2003 Education Award in recognition of educational programs that are worthy models for others. This organization was created to raise funds for landscaping on Jefferson Parish public green spaces, to administer projects for the Jefferson Parish Department of Parkways, and to teach the value of trees. This education effort includes an intensive, one-day Tree School, designed to promote the preservation of trees in urban areas and to teach area residents how to select and care for their trees. The Tree School also teaches homebuilders, contractors, planners, and architects about the importance of including trees in their developments. Offered free to participants, the Tree School has already reached more than 600 local residents.
-- Tree People, Los Angeles, California, recipient of an Education Award for inspiring the people of Los Angeles to take personal responsibility for the urban forest. Their mission includes teaching, training, and supporting residents as they plant and care for trees, and improving their neighborhoods. Tree People is a nonprofit organization founded by Andy and Katie Lipkis nearly 30 years ago. With a staff of 50 educators, foresters, and administrators, Tree People sponsors programs for children and adults alike.
-- The South San Antonio, Texas, High School Interact Club, honored with an Education Award for its many environmental contributions. This work includes involvement in the Metro Transit Bus Stop Tree Planting Program; street median improvement; neighborhood tree planting and recycling programs; coastal clean-up projects; and planting trees in area parks. Their outreach also extends to helping collect food for the homeless, raising money for the Red Cross, and helping at the Ronald McDonald House. Sponsored by Rotary International, the club includes about 60 students aged 14 through 19.
-- L.A.N.D. (the Landscaping and Nature Department) at Oak Grove Elementary School, Poughkeepsie, New York, winner of the final 2003 Education Award. L.A.N.D. is an after-school club open to fourth and fifth grade students, formed in 1998 to study trees around the school and to plant and care for trees along the school's entry drive. Since then, L.A.N.D. has expanded to include several school-wide activities, including the creation of a nature trail, memorial and butterfly gardens, and ongoing tree plantings on the school grounds. The group is now making plans for a tree nursery at the school.
-- The Gift of Trees, an educational packet created by the National Association of Conservation Districts, Washington, D.C., winner of a 2003 Media Award. The Media Award recognizes the power of the media to capture the attention and imagination of the viewing, listening, and reading public. The Gift of Trees celebrates and promotes Soil and Water Stewardship Week and was distributed to 3,000 soil and water conservation districts. Each local district was then able to order specific items to distribute to schools and churches in their area so that this conservation message could be incorporated into lesson plans.
-- America's Famous and Historic Trees, winner of a 2003 Media Award, written by Jeffrey G. Meyer, of Jacksonville, Florida. Meyer, a professional nurseryman and project director for American Forest's Famous and Historic Trees program, also hosts the PBS series Tree Stories. His book tells the story of several trees, which have witnessed many of America's historic events. Featured trees include George Washington's tulip poplar, the Lewis and Clark cottonwood, and Elvis Presley's pin oak. In addition to telling the stories of these historic trees, the book also provides information on each tree species, complete with planting instructions.
-- Tree Link, an educational web site operated from Salt Lake City, Utah, winner of the final 2003 Media Award. Created in 1996 with the support of the National Urban and Community Forestry Council, the USDA Forest Service, and the George and Dolores Eccles Foundation, Tree Link (http://www.treelink.org) expands education, recognition, and respect for urban and community forestry. It serves as a networking center for urban forestry professionals and provides information to the general public, receiving hundreds of visits each month from countries around the world.
-- The Harley School Arbor Day Oak Tree Ceremony, at the Harley School, Rochester, New York, winner of a 2003 Celebration Award for programs that best represent the spirit of the tree planters' holiday. This Arbor Day tradition was suggested by the Harley School Parent Council and involves each graduating senior presenting a seedling oak tree to every child entering first grade. The Arbor Day Oak Tree Ceremony is held on New York State's Arbor Day, with the kindergartners sitting in a semi-circle across from the seniors. The senior class reads a tree-related story to the younger children, and then one by one, the seniors present a tree to each of the kindergarten students. The trees are then planted at the children's homes or in an area designated at the school.
-- The Meadows School, Las Vegas, Nevada, recognized with this year's second Celebration Award. Arbor Day celebration activities at The Meadows School start in September and continue through October, with an environmental component incorporated into the curriculum and all students of The Meadows School taking part in 'Arbor Month' events. The school was built in 1990 on bare ground, and since that time concerned parents have helped organize fundraisers to earn money for trees and landscaping. These annual fundraisers continue to reshape the school grounds.
-- Arbor Day 2002: Shore to Please With Trees, Trenton, New Jersey, winner of the final 2003 Celebration Award for its program highlighting the fact that 'shore tolerant' tree species are available and thrive in coastal areas. The celebration was held at Silver Lake in Belmar, New Jersey on National Arbor Day, April 26, 2002, and was organized by New Jersey's Community Forestry Program, Tree Foundation, Shade Tree Federation, Community Forestry Council, and the Borough of Belmar. On that day, 170 volunteers planted 97 large caliper trees at Silver Lake, which is directly across a street from the Atlantic Ocean.
-- The John Deere Company, Moline, Illinois, recipient of the 2003 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. In the spring of 2000, John Deere established an annual loan program of valuable pieces of equipment for operation and maintenance of Arbor Day Farm, located in Nebraska City, Neb. Their commitment continues today, with more equipment being included each year. In addition to tractors and small, four-wheel Gators, John Deere has also given the Farm use of mowers, snow blowers, tillers, and other equipment. Each year John Deere replaces the machinery with the most current models.
The National Arbor Day Foundation is a million-member, nonprofit educational organization dedicated to tree planting and environmental stewardship. More information on the Foundation and the Arbor Day Awards is available by calling (402) 474-5655 or by visiting the Foundation's Web site, arborday.org.
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