ACT Members Receive National Tree Honors

Nebraska City, NE (May 5, 2011)- Alliance for Community Trees member organizations were among the exemplary tree planters and environmental stewards who received National Arbor Day Awards for inspiring others to plant and care for trees. Shannon Ramsay, Founding President and CEO of Trees Forever and Treasurer of ACT, was honored alongside 15 other award winners including Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Tom Zetterstrom of Elm Watch, New Jersey Tree Foundation, and Our City Forest.

The Awards honor individuals, organizations, conservation groups and corporations that make a positive impact on the world through tree-planting, and environmental or nature education initiatives. Since 1972, the Arbor Day Foundation has paid tribute to some of the world’s most dedicated tree planters. “When we honor tree planters for the work they do today, we are commemorating the benefits they are leaving for future generations,” said John Rosenow, chief executive and founder of the Arbor Day Foundation. “This group of Arbor Day Award winners is leaving a lasting legacy through the simple act of planting trees and caring for the Earth.”
*The Frederick Law Olmsted Award was given to Shannon Ramsay of Trees Forever, a nonprofit organization in Marion, Iowa. The Olmsted Award is given to honor a lifelong commitment to tree-planting and conservation on a state level. For the past 22 years, Ramsay has been planting trees by the thousands as the founding president and chief executive officer of Trees Forever. Through Ramsay’s leadership, Trees Forever engages volunteers and assists community leaders with tree-planting and stewardship programs. The organization works with more than 200 communities and 7,000 volunteers each year to plant trees. Since the organization was founded in 1989, Trees Forever has planted nearly 3 million trees in Iowa and Illinois. Trees Forever partners with local farmers to showcase how buffers of trees, shrubs and grasses can help purify water and reduce erosion along streams and rivers. Ramsay is a respected leader among tree-planters nationwide, helping to craft national policy with the Alliance for Community Trees.
* The New Jersey Tree Foundation of Trenton, N.J., received the Excellence in Urban Forest Leadership Award for reforming communities by planting trees. This nonprofit organization is dedicated to reforesting the state’s most urban areas. The staff of the Foundation educates and inspires residents to take charge of the projects and care for their trees as a way of transforming the neighborhoods where they live. During the past 13 years, the New Jersey Tree Foundation has planted more than 153,000 trees across the state, mostly along streets and on school grounds. The Foundation also works with the State Parole Board to hire a tree-planting crew each season.
* Keep Indianapolis Beautiful was given the Award for Excellence in Volunteer Management for its outstanding efforts to engage volunteers in tree-planting initiatives. Keep Indianapolis Beautiful demonstrated that volunteers are an essential piece of community forestry management when it worked with thousands to plant trees and transform a six-mile stretch of land along Interstate 70. KIB partnered with Eli Lilly and Company for the corporation’s annual day of service to restore the road that runs between the Indianapolis International Airport and the downtown area. After two years of planning the logistics of shutting down an interstate for 12 hours and organizing more than 8,000 tree planters, the volunteers came together to plant 1,600 trees, 1,000 shrubs and 72,000 perennials and native grasses to enhance four interchanges along the interstate.
* The Award for Education Innovation will be given to Our City Forest of San Jose, Calif., for engaging and educating its community in a unique way. Since 1994, Our City Forest has been providing ways for residents of San Jose to take care of the area’s vast urban forest, and it starts with education. The program has trained more than 400 volunteers and educators, called Tree Amigos, to go out in the community and serve as ambassadors for Our City Forest. Tree Amigos graduate from a free, 18-hour training course, and then go out into the community to teach and guide residents as they plant and care for trees. Our City Forest also educates students from kindergarten through college about the vital role trees play in a city. During the past 15 years, the program has engaged citizens to participate in more than 3,000 tree-planting projects resulting in more than 50,000 trees being added to the city’s canopy.
* Tom Zetterstrom of Canaan, Conn., received the Public Awareness of Trees Award for bringing attention to the importance of planting and preserving trees. As founding director of Elm Watch, Zetterstrom, has worked to protect and plant hundreds of American elms over the past 12 years. Relying on the best available science, Elm Watch ensures that the American elm will remain a part of New England’s historic and future treescape. Through its Elm Collaborators e-mail network, EW provides a way for scientists and elm activists to share current research on the next generation of disease-resistant elm cultivars, and has recently refocused attention on diseases such as elm yellows. The group provided peer review for the University of Minnesota’s publication Pruning Young Elms and helps make the manual available to arborists. Zetterstrom has worked regionally with many communities and campuses to establish and guide tree committees, and through his lectures and presentations, conveys the importance of large canopy trees in sustainable community forests and green parking lot designs. Zetterstrom’s photographic work is known throughout the U.S. His “Portraits of American Trees” have been displayed in numerous university galleries and national museums over the past three decades.
Related Resources:
Arbor Day Foundation Honors Top Tree Planters and Conservation Groups for 2011
Trees Forever
Keep Indianapolis Beautiful
Elm Watch
New Jersey Tree Foundation
Our City Forest