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.”

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!


Fort Wayne, IN

Fort Wayne has received Tree City USA designation for 24 years and has been awarded the Growth Award nine times.

Ft Wayne INFort Wayne is home to 250,000 residents and a diverse variety of activities including 15 museums and art galleries, a botanical conservatory, and three minor league sports franchises, not to mention the 86 public parks one can enjoy. The city’s 29% tree canopy coverage provides shade and beauty to those exploring the city.

Fort Wayne’s urban forest is comprised of more than 54,000 street trees that save the city nearly $300,000 in air filtration costs. In addition, the urban forest reduces energy expenses by $2.5 million and saves $1.7 million in stormwater management annually.

Is your city worthy of Arbor Day Foundation #TreeCityUSATuesday recognition?  If so, please tell us about it!


Honolulu, HI

Honolulu has received Tree City USA designation for 33 years and has been awarded the Growth Award twice.

honoluluWhen most people think of Honolulu they probably think of tropical climates and relaxing resorts, and while the city is a top tourist destination, there is more to Hawaii’s capital than sandy beaches. Honolulu—home to nearly one million residents–has tree canopy coverage of 20%, cooling the city from its warm temperatures.

When you need a break from water sports you might consider hiking some of the city’s old volcanoes. The Division of Urban Forestry is responsible for more than 235,800 trees, so finding a tree to take shade under shouldn’t be a problem when you need some shade. Additionally, Honolulu’s urban forest saves $47,000 in air pollution costs, so you can enjoy the view at the top without smog blocking the scene.

Furthermore, residents save more than $343,000 in energy costs as a result of the city’s urban forest. The dense tree canopy intercepts 35 million gallons of stormwater annually, saving the city more than $350,000 in stormwater management costs.

Is your city worthy of #TreeCityUSATuesday recognition?  If so, please tell us about it!

Florida and Louisiana Celebrate Arbor Day in January

ArborWhile the National Arbor Day observance is celebrated on the last Friday in April, many states and municipalities have implemented state or locally recognized Arbor Days that reflect the best time for planting in their region.  Florida and Louisiana celebrate Arbor Day the third Friday in January.


naples zooNaples has been designated a Tree City USA community for 17 years and Growth Award recipient seven times. Naples Zoo celebrated Arbor Day with a day of tree-related activities for the whole family including tree climbing demonstrations in Rainforest Grove. Partners from local organizations shared information about the value of trees and the best native tree selections for planting in the region. Davey Tree was also on hand to answer all tree care questions.

Winter Haven—a designated Tree City USA community for 21 years and Growth Award recipient six times— will hold a tree give away at Central Park. The event will include tree planting and maintenance demonstrations.


lsu agcenterCovington has been designated a Tree City USA community for 21 years and Growth Award recipient four times. Partnered with Keep Covington Beautiful, the city will celebrate Arbor Day with their traditional annual tree give-away at the Covington Farmers Market on January 17th. A variety of native bare-root seedlings will be available including buttonbush, mayhaw, chickasaw plum, and baldcypress.

Baton Rouge— a designated Tree City USA community for 20 years and Growth Award recipient five times— has numerous celebrations throughout the city, including family fun at the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden. The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry and the Burden Horticulture Society are partnering up to host the Arbor Day celebration. Attendees can meet Smokey Bear and participate in a scavenger hunt in the woods, or watch lumber jack demonstrations in the arboretum. Additionally, attendees will be able to take home a tree for planting.


Montgomery AL

Montgomery has received Tree City USA designation for 20 years.

MontgomeryMontgomery — rich in cultural history and heart of the Civil Rights Movement— is located along the Alabama River and home to 200,000 residents.  This state capital offers tourists plenty of attractions, including the Hank Williams Museum, Alabama Shakespeare Theater, and Alabama War Memorial.

Visitors can explore the city and take shade under the city’s tree canopy that encompasses 34% of the city.  Montgomery’s urban forest removes 3.2 million pounds of pollutants from the air annually, equating to $7.9 million in savings. In addition, the city’s tree canopy saves $454 million in stormwater management costs.

Is your city worthy of Arbor Day Foundation #TreeCityUSATuesday recognition?  If so, please tell us about it!

Arbor Day Foundation Visits Peruvian Coffee Farmers

Jared Carlson—Director of Innovation and Business Development— and Ryan Hatt —Business Development Manager—recently returned from a visit to Peru, where they met with some of the coffee farmers who grow our Arbor Day Specialty Coffee.  The following is a recap of their adventures, as recorded by Ryan.  

table  peruAfter a long journey, we arrived in Moyobamba —a city located in northeastern Peru in the center of the Amazon jungle.  This being our first trip to Moyobamba, the first thing we noticed was the lush jungle and oppressive humidity.

Our first morning we met with the member farmers of the up-and-coming Aproeco coffee co-op. Although Aproeco is a newer organization, their passion for growing high-quality coffee and protecting the environment was evident through their efforts in educating farmers on sustainable farming practices, among others.

mushroom peruOne of the farmers, Benedigto Montanero Mellan, gave us a tour of his shade-grown coffee farm. A mix of young and mature trees native to the area covered the farm. Protecting the coffee and the land was very important to Benedigto since he, like many other farmers, depend on both for his livelihood.

While touring Benedigto’s farm, we came across mushrooms growing among the coffee called “orejas” because they look like ears. He picked them, welcomed us into his home, started a wood fire and began cooking. As Benedigto prepared a meal of orejas and plantains for dinner, we explained the mission of the Arbor Day Foundation and the importance of farmers growing shade-grown coffee to protect the environment and provide habitat to rare plant and animal species.

flag peruOur trip to the rain forest was eye-opening. We realize that in addition to visiting the farms, it is important to thank the farmers in person for their work and to encourage them to continue their sustainable farming practices. In many cases, we were the first people from the U.S. that the farmers had ever met—all because they are growing coffee in the shade. Please tell us what you enjoy about Arbor Day Specialty Coffee.


Chicago IL

chicago ilChicago has received Tree City USA designation for 32 years and has been awarded the Growth Award 19 times. 

The Windy City is an alluring hub for the arts, culture, and entertainment. Home to 2.6 million residents and 3,5 million trees, Chicago has a character of its own. This lakefront city is also on the forefront of environmental sustainability, implementing green infrastructure and working toward a denser tree canopy, with current tree canopy coverage at 17.2%.

With so many attractions to explore downtown, one will appreciate the clean air the city’s urban forest sustains, removing 888 tons of air pollution annually and saving the city $6.4 million a year. In addition, Chicago’s trees reduce residential energy costs by $360,000, a sum that many would appreciate.

The benefits that Chicago’s urban forest provides to the city are valued at an astounding $2.3 billion.

Is your city worthy of Arbor Day Foundation #TreeCityUSATuesday recognition?  If so, please tell us about it!


St. Louis MO

STLMOSt. Louis has received Tree City USA designation for 32 years and was awarded the Growth Award 16 times.

Home to more than 300,000 residents, St. Louis is a major Mississippi River port and a hub for manufacturing, trade, and transportation goods. With a proud industrial heritage, St. Louis is also proud of  its urban and community forest — tree canopy covers 18%  of the city.

The city of St. Louis operates more than 100 parks, including Forest Park which is one of the largest urban parks in the United States, surpassing Central Park in New York City. The city’s urban forest removes almost 700,000 lbs of air pollution annually, saving the city $1.5 million in air filtration costs. In addition, the tree canopy saves $39.8 million in stormwater management.

The benefits that St. Louis’ urban forest provides to the city are valued at $41.3 million.

Is your city worthy of Arbor Day Foundation #TreeCityUSATuesday recognition?  If so, please tell us about it!

The Five Most Popular Christmas Trees

Number One: Scots Pine (Pinus Sylvestris)

The number one tree on The Arbor Day Foundation Five Most Popular Christmas Trees series is the Scots Pine, which is the top selling tree in the country. Scots Pines aren’t actually native to the United States; they were introduced through European settlers and have since been cultivated, especially in the eastern US. Their bright green color, excellent survival rate, and great needle retention make them the most popular Christmas tree on our countdown.

Scots PineeScots Pines (also known as Scotch Pine) are a hardy species adaptable to a wide variety of soils. They resist drying, and even when they do dry they refuse to drop their needles. In fact, when kept in water these pines will stay fresh for 3-4 weeks.  Scots Pines grow to more than 60 ft high and 40 ft wide. They are however a slow growing tree, which means it takes 6-8 years to produce a 7 to 8 ft Christmas tree. They naturally grow in an oval shape and are annually sheared to form the Christmas tree figure.

Scots Pines have high economic value in Europe and throughout Asia because they produce pulpwood —timber used specifically for paper production —poles, and sawlogs used in manufacturing plywood. They’re also popular in reclamation sites because of their easy replanting capabilities, with more than 35 seed varieties commercially recognized.

To learn more about the Scots Pine or any other tree visit our What Tree is That? tool.

Tell us about the tree you selected in our comments section below.

The Five Most Popular Christmas Trees

Number Two: The Douglasfir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)

Number two on our Christmas tree countdown is the Douglasfir. Discovered in 1826 by botanist-explorer David Douglas, Douglasfirs have remained important in American history.  Their tall structure, soft needles, and sweet aroma make them one of the most popular Christmas tree choices, accounting for nearly half of all Christmas trees grown in the United States.

Michelle Obama Hosts Christmas Volunteers At White HouseDid you know that Douglasfirs were also a candidate for America’s National Tree in 2001? (Check out the other candidates here.) Although they didn’t receive the title, they still demonstrate how connected they are with American history.  They helped settle the West by providing railroad ties and telephone & telegraph poles. They’re the most common tree in Oregon; eight of every ten conifers west of the Cascades are Douglasfirs. In 1936, the Oregon Legislature recognized the Douglasfir as the official state tree.

These trees are quite the warriors; they’re deer-resistant and seldom severely damaged. There are two geographical varieties of Douglasfir (which aren’t real Fir trees): Coast Douglasfir, native to the Pacific coast through Nevada, and Rocky Mountain Douglasfir, native to the inland mountains of the Pacific Northwest and the Rocky Mountains. The Coastal variety is faster growing, long-lived and can grow to be more than 300 ft tall. They’re versatile, growing in a variety of environments from extremely dry, low elevation sites to moist sites.

The national champion Douglasfir tree grows in Coos County, Oregon. It measures 329 ft tall with a crown spread of 60 ft, and diameter of 11 ½ ft ­­­­– that’s massive. According to the Oregon Encyclopedia, the largest known Douglasfir is in British Columbia on the west coast of Vancouver Island. It is 242 ft tall and 13.9 ft in diameter and the only known tree on earth—other than the Giant Sequoia and coast redwood— that has a diameter of 7 ft at 144 ft from the ground. What a beauty!

Douglasfirs are also the country’s top lumber source. Their wood is used widely in construction, laminated timbers, interior trim, boxes, ladders and flooring.

To learn more about the Douglasfir or any other tree visit the What Tree is That? tool.

Tell us about the tree you selected in our comments section below.