Arbor Day Award Winner Highlights: Award for Education Innovation

Each year the Arbor Day Foundation recognizes outstanding individuals, environmental leaders, and innovative organizations for their sustainable conservation efforts on an international, national, state and community level through the Arbor Day Awards Program. The 2014 Arbor Day Awards were presented April 26 at the Lied Lodge and Conference Center in Nebraska City. During May we’ll highlight the award winners.

Award for Education Innovation—Delaware Center for Horticulture:

The Award for Education Innovation recognizes innovative education programs that successfully introduce and teach their audience the importance of trees and serve as an inspiration for future environmental stewards.

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Jen Bruhler of the Delaware Center for Horticulture plants a tree at Arbor Lodge State Historical Park. Photo by Carrie Benes.

The Delaware Center for Horticulture believed that combining job training with tree planting helps not only individuals, but the community at large. That philosophy lead to the launch of the Return to Work Green Jobs Program in 2009. What started as an education program to employ ex-offenders to plant trees has now grown to become a meaningful life changing model, transforming both lives and communities.Since its inception, dozens of men and women have received classroom and field training focusing on urban forestry, urban agriculture and public landscapes and have been gainfully employed.

A recent program graduate shared:

“Coming from prison, to working with trees, to be honest with you… trees saved my life. I’ve seen the other side, and it was very rewarding to have the opportunity to work with the staff at the Delaware Center for Horticulture.  The staff there gave me a new view not just on trees, but also on people.  This program gave me the tools to work in my neighborhood, and finding out about these different lifestyles gave me the vision to want to do something better with my life.”

The Return to Work Green program demonstrates firsthand the lasting impact a tree planting can have in restoring hope where it is needed most.

Are you aware of an outstanding individual or organization that is an exemplary steward of our Earth?  If so, please consider nominating them for our 2015 Arbor Day Awards.

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