Emi Lutz, Bellevue, Washington

Emi LutzHigh School senior Emi Lutz of Bellevue, Washington — a Tree City USA community — compiled a guide to the plants of Lewis Creek Park with great enthusiasm. The guide was Emi’s senior project and part of Bellevue’s Well Kept Program, offered by the city’s Parks and Community Services DepartmentNatural Resources Division.

The 85-page, full-color guide highlights plants ranging from the Douglasfir to the slough sedge. More importantly, the experience stimulated Emi’s conservation ethic and led her to the University of Washington where she is studying for a career as a biologist.

Emi Lutz Bk“Through working in the Well Kept Program and leading nature walks with residents, I realized that I enjoyed sharing my interest and knowledge of the outdoors and trees with others,” said Emi.

The Well Kept Program offers summer park employment that teaches life skills, provides environmental education, and instills young people with self-esteem and good work habits. This opportunity and support from the Bellevue’s Parks and Community Services Department provided Emi with the training and experience that helped forge her current academic and eventual career path.

Emi Lutz Group“It was fun to teach both kids and adults and watch them learn and start caring for the environment,” she adds.

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RonDell Pooler, Washington, District of Columbia

Rondell PoolerRonDell Pooler, a resident of the Tree City USA recognized community of Washington, D.C., leveraged a valuable training opportunity when he registered with DC Green Corps, a green jobs program that provides career training and guidance for underemployed Washington residents. DC Green Corps training focuses on new tree planting and maintenance, park management, and volunteer supervision.

As part of the program, RonDell participated in a 12-week training course supported by the District of Columbia Department of Transportation’s Urban Forest Administration and the U.S. Forest Service.

DC CorpsNow a proud graduate of DC Green Corps, RonDell works for a nonprofit organization leading volunteer projects, monitoring trees and park conditions, and supervising trainees.

“Forestry programs have had a great impact, not only by giving me a job but real skills,” said RonDell. “It has also helped me become more conscious of the community and my neighborhood.”

The generous support from the D.C. Urban Forest Administration and the U.S. Forest Service helped to make this successful program possible, and provided the valuable opportunity to encourage local community forestry leaders like RonDell Pooler to engage in the active stewardship of Washington’s trees now and into the future.

Do you have an Arbor Day Foundation story that you’d like to share?  Please tell us all about it in the comments section below.  We’d love to hear it!

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Linda Jark, Chapman, Kansas, Tree Board Chair

On the night of June 11, 2008, a deadly tornado struck Chapman, Kansas, leaving behind a trail of devastation. Much of the tree canopy in the heart of this farming community was destroyed.

KS plantingTo exacerbate the difficult situation, Chapman had no organized community forestry program. That’s when the Kansas Forest Service got involved. A community forester at Kansas State University took initiative, promptly contacted Chapman city officials, and generously offered technical assistance to help the community address the storm’s aftermath.

During the next several years, the Kansas Forest Service helped start a tree board and guided an inventory of the community’s trees. Information from the inventory helped leverage Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance to remove irreparably damaged and destroyed trees and to guide a new tree planting strategy.

Linda JarkLinda Jark was eventually appointed chair of the new tree board. She is quick to praise the assistance that Chapman received after the tornado. For her, this made all the difference.

“Thanks to the Kansas Forest Service, we got the right information and recommendations,” said Linda. Chapman’s community forestry program is now thriving and continues to grow.  In addition, Chapman is now a proud Tree City USA recognized community.

“Now it’s starting to show,” said Linda. “We have growth. The community forestry program is in the public eye.”

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Jo An Street, Portland, Maine, Parent

Jo AnJo An Street is the mother of an elementary student at Reiche School near downtown Portland, Maine, a recognized Tree City USA community for nearly four decades, so she understands the importance of exposing city-raised children to trees and green space. She was pleased when a collaborative effort was initiated between Portland’s Forestry Department, local businesses and educational groups to create apple orchards on school grounds.

“This is the only green space many of these children may have access to,” says Jo An. With support from the Maine Forest Service‘s ‘Project Canopy,’ four apple orchards were established at Portland schools during the first three years, and the project continues to grow. Jo An kids

The trees in the school orchard are connecting children with nature. The orchards are planted and cared for by students and staff during the school year and by community and parent groups during the summer. In addition to providing outdoor play space, the orchards also serve an educational purpose.

“This has become a community effort and trees are an important way to bring science education to these kids,” Jo An adds. She has already noticed the difference the trees have made to her own children.

Joan Tree

Were it not for grant dollars, professional advice and volunteer assistance from state and local forestry officials, children in Portland would not have these educational and invigorating orchards in which to learn and play.

Do you have an Arbor Day Foundation story that you’d like to share?  Please tell us all about it in the comments section below.  We’d love to hear it!

Allison Fisher, Neptune Township, New Jersey, and Bill Comery, Paramus, New Jersey, Beneficiaries of the New Jersey Community Tree Recovery Campaign

The Arbor Day Foundation’s Community Tree Recovery campaigns have become an important resource to people affected by natural disasters. Since 2006, the Arbor Day Foundation has given nearly 1.6 million trees to people in communities recovering from natural disasters.

The size, scope and scale of Superstorm Sandy that pounded the eastern seaboard in October, 2012 was unprecedented.

Hurricane-force winds, storm-surge flooding, and salt water damage had a lethal effect on trees in many states, especially the “Garden State” of New Jersey, which lost millions of trees.

Allison Fisher

Credit: NJTV

The people of New Jersey love their trees. Allison Fisher from Neptune Township remarked, “You know you’re so used to seeing something and then it’s not there. It’s like a missing puzzle piece.”

To accelerate the urgent replanting needed, and to begin bringing hope and healing to the people and communities in need, the Arbor Day Foundation and New Jersey Division of State Forestry Services launched the New Jersey Community Tree Recovery Campaign. This year, some 100,000 trees were given to residents at 97 events in 18 counties.

Nj Tree Recovery 6Bill Comery, long-time Paramus resident and that city’s former director of parks and forestry, has seen first-hand the hope and healing brought forth by the New Jersey Community Tree Recovery Campaign.  Said Comery, “More and more communities are engaged. We are on the road to recovering our precious tree canopy, one tree at a time.”  Comery personally witnessed the devastation that hit close to home – literally. “I woke up the morning after the storm and was very disheartened to see my prized scarlet oak damaged beyond repair,” he said. Comery’s scarlet oak was documented as the largest in the entire state of New Jersey. Comery continued, “The tree had provided canopy coverage to my entire home. After its loss, I noticed that I had to run the air conditioner a lot more, and completely alter my landscaping from full shade to full sun.”

Comery is replanting, having planted several trees including some of his favorite species of oak and beech. He concluded, “We need trees for all of the benefits that they provide.  It’s very much a quality of life issue. Trees greatly improve the quality of life in a community. And now, more than ever, with the help of the Arbor Day Foundation and its Community Tree Recovery Campaign, we in New Jersey are taking care to plant the right tree in the right place and restoring our vibrant tree canopy.”

2014-03-29 10.08.45To foster diversity, 29 species were distributed as part of the New Jersey Community Tree Recovery Campaign: Oaks and pines. Spruces and firs. Basswood, beach plum, and bay berry. Black gum and black walnut. Bald cypress and sycamore. The list is long, the trees are beautiful, and their impact will last for generations. The plantings, which will continue, are a heroic response to a natural catastrophe—companies, municipalities, and volunteers taking action to bring green abundance back to their communities.

In the future, “super-storms” such as Sandy are likely to be more frequent as climate change continues unabated. It has been said regarding climate change that we need to avoid the unmanageable and manage the unavoidable. The members and supporters of the Arbor Day Foundation share a simple, noble, and invaluable part of the solution: planting trees.

Do you have an Arbor Day Foundation story that you’d like to share?  Please tell us all about it in the comments section below.  We’d love to hear it!

James Settle, Roanoke, Virginia, Neighborhood Leader and Former Parks Advisory Board Member

James Settle“This stretch of road was a racetrack,” said Roanoke, Virginia, resident James Settle, recalling how speeding cars used to pour across a nearby bridge, down his street and past his family’s home.

Walking in James’ neighborhood was truly a dangerous proposition – until the City of Roanoke, a long-time Tree City USA recognized community, planted 26 ornamental and shade trees at the foot of the bridge. The trees grew into an effective entryway to the neighborhood and a buffer between busy traffic and single-family homes. The constancy of speeding cars subsided.

The new trees slowed traffic and made the neighborhood safer. In fact, James says he has never felt safer, and that the 26 trees made all the difference.

“If we could do only one thing as a neighborhood, we’d plant trees,” he said.

roanoke james sWhile other local neighborhoods hoped to realize the same safety benefits, a challenging budget situation reduced the overall number of trees that the city would be able to plant. Undeterred, James inspired a local volunteer group of tree stewards with the goal of giving every resident the same sense of comfort he now experiences.

Do you have an Arbor Day Foundation story that you’d like to share?  Please tell us all about it in the comments section below.  We’d love to hear it!

Megan Ehlers, Ehlers Animal Care, Trees for Pets

Professional pet sitters, veterinarians, other animal care professionals, and all who love animal companions have a unique opportunity to honor, celebrate and remember the pets for which they care through the Arbor Day Foundation’s unique Trees for Pets program.

Launched in the winter of 2010, Trees for Pets allows animal care professionals to show just how special their clients’ pets are to them while at the same time making a difference in the world. Each Trees for Pets certificate honors a special companion by planting a tree in their honor or memory in our nation’s forests to help replace grand trees that are lost each year to fire or disease.

Megan Ehlers“Trees for Pets means so much to our clients.  We’ve received a very positive response from our clients because of our participation in Trees for Pets,” said Megan Ehlers, owner and veterinarian at Ehlers Animal Care in Lincoln, Nebraska. “We very much want to honor the passing of a loved companion. It helps create a sense of peace in a time of need. Our clients are moved by the simple act of planting a tree to honor the bond they shared with their pet, and they are touched that the acknowledgement of the love of their pet is making a lasting difference for generations to come through the planting of trees. One client’s thank you card shared that the tree planted was placed in a forest that his father used to reminisce about camping in as a child.  Moments such as these are profound for us, but most importantly to the healing process of our clients.”

Ehlers Animal Care has helped the Arbor Day Foundation plant 460 trees during the past four years through their participation in the Trees for Pets program.

Ttrees for pethey’re more than our pets. They’re our friends. They carve out a special place in our hearts and in our lives. What better way to honor them than with the gift of trees?

A meaningful and convenient way to honor the companions for which you care, Trees for Pets is easy to use. Online registration is available at http://www.arborday.org/animalpro/.

“Animals are such agreeable friends—they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.”

—George Eliot

Do you have an Arbor Day Foundation story that you’d like to share?  Please tell us all about it in the comments section below.  We’d love to hear it!

 

Robert Horton, Bastrop, Texas, Beneficiary of the Lost Pines Forest Community Tree Recovery Campaign

photo 12In 2011, wildfires devastated the Lost Pines Forest of Bastrop, Texas. The Bastrop County Complex fire was the most destructive wildfire in Texas history. Two people were killed by the fire, which destroyed 1,673 homes, 32,000 acres of land, 96% of Bastrop State Park, and inflicted an estimated $325 million of insured property damage.

The Arbor Day Foundation, through the generous support of our members and supporters, is working with our on-the-ground partners to bring back the loblolly pine trees that made the Lost Pines Forest one of the most unique and beautiful places in the world, and to bring hope and healing to the people that call Bastrop home.

Robert Horton, a retired real estate broker, has long embraced the importance of community. When his 10 acre property was ravaged by the fire that caused enormous damage to Bastrop, Texas, Robert was devastated. “While Bastrop is just a little bitty spot on the map to others, for us who live here, it is important to us. It is home.”

Robert HortonRecovery was top-of-mind to Robert and his neighbors in Bastrop, a community closely identified with the local Lost Pines Forest that was badly burned by the fire. The Arbor Day Foundation, working with partners on the ground, help Robert and Bastrop to restore hope and begin to heal by planting trees. 5,000 trees were planted on Robert’s 10 acres. He praised the Arbor Day Foundation and its partners. “They are a resource that is so valuable that you can’t put a number on it.”

What does the Arbor Day Foundation Community Tree Recovery program mean to Robert Horton?  “It means reclaiming my property.  I moved here for the forest, and now the forest is gone.  But everyone who puts one tree back in the ground helps to bring the Lost Pines back.”

Do you have an Arbor Day Foundation story that you’d like to share?  Please tell us all about it in the comments section below.  We’d love to hear it!

Danielle Gift, Urban Forester, New York City Department of Parks & Recreation

 

giftWhen Danielle Gift was ten years old and in the fifth grade, she received her first 10 trees from the Arbor Day Foundation.  So began her love of trees and the natural environment, a passion that intensified as Danielle grew.  While in high school, she was active in the ecology club.  At Northern Arizona University, she earned an undergraduate degree in forestry and focused on ecological restoration, inspired by a desire to make a difference in urban areas as cities increasingly encroach on forestlands. This desire to make a difference lead her to continue her studies at Virginia Tech University, where she participated in a Tree Campus USA planting, and where she earned a graduate degree in urban forestry.

Central Park Summer

Photo Credit | Flickr, Kevin Dooley

Now employed full time as a city forester in New York City, Danielle sees how her life path has been connected by her love of trees.  From her first Arbor Day Foundation trees, to Tree Campus USA, to the community forest of New York City. And Danielle Gift loves her work, characterizing it as “better than I had imagined.”  Continuing, she shared, “I feel like I’m making a difference.”

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Beneficiary Stories

Lost Pines Forest Community Tree Recovery Campaign

In 2011, wildfires devastated the Lost Pines Forest of Bastrop, Texas. The Bastrop County Complex fire was the most destructive wildfire in Texas history. Two people were killed by the fire, which destroyed 1,673 homes, 32,000 acres of land, 96% of Bastrop State Park, and inflicted an estimated $325 million of insured property damage.

bastrop[1]

Credit: Joe Wolf, Flickr

The Arbor Day Foundation, through the generous support of our members and supporters, is working with our on-the-ground partners to bring back the loblolly pine trees that made the Lost Pines Forest one of the most unique and beautiful places in the world, and to bring hope and healing to the people that call Bastrop home.

Robert Horton, a retired real estate broker, has long embraced the importance of community. When his 10 acre property was ravaged by the fire that caused enormous damage to Bastrop, Texas, Robert was devastated. “While Bastrop is just a little bitty spot on the map to others, for us who live here, it is important to us. It is home.”

Recovery was top-of-mind to Robert and his neighbors in Bastrop, a community closely identified with the local Lost Pines Forest that was badly burned by the fire. The Arbor Day Foundation, working with partners on the ground, help Robert and Bastrop to restore hope and begin to heal by planting trees. 5,000 trees were planted on Robert’s 10 acres. He praised the Arbor Day Foundation and its partners. “They are a resource that is so valuable that you can’t put a number on it.”

full-08[1]What does the Arbor Day Foundation Community Tree Recovery program mean to Robert Horton?  “It means reclaiming my property.  I moved here for the forest, and now the forest is gone.  But everyone who puts one tree back in the ground helps to bring the Lost Pines back.”

When natural disasters strike, the loss of trees is devastating. Due to this great need for trees as a key component of community rebuilding and recovery, the Arbor Day Foundation developed the Community Tree Recovery Program.  This program is working to create a systematic response to disasters in communities nationwide. It helps restore a healthy community tree canopy and offers a positive engagement opportunity for residents across the country that want to be involved and support community tree recovery efforts.

In coordination and cooperation with state forestry agencies and key local partners, the Arbor Day Foundation brings national awareness and identifies financial resources to support the distribution of trees to communities in need.

Continued generous donations made by our members and supporters allow the Arbor Day Foundation to provide ongoing support to many important Community Tree Recovery campaigns. This coming spring provides new opportunities for restoring a sense of hope to communities recovering from disaster as the program continues to provide trees to areas devastated by hurricanes, wildfires and tornadoes.

full-01[1]The Arbor Day Foundation continues to plant trees and restore hope through Arbor Day Foundation Community Tree Recovery Program campaigns in Alabama, Colorado, Kentucky, Missouri, New Jersey and Texas. By working closely with our Foundation partners to replant trees, we are also bringing healing and hope to local communities, families and individuals.