ACTrees and Its Member Organizations Honored at Arbor Day Awards

Nebraska City, NE (April 27, 2013) – ACTrees received the “Public Awareness of Trees” Award from the Arbor Day Foundation at its award ceremony in Nebraska this past weekend. The award recognized National NeighborWoods® Month as a signature campaign that increases the visibility of trees in cities nationwide and rallies organizations and volunteers around tree planting and care in their communities. ACTrees members also received high honors, with awards going to Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, Kemba Shakur of Urban Releaf, and ACTrees Board Member Burnell Fischer.

John Rosenow, Founder and President of Arbor Day Foundation, with Sarah Anderson, ACTrees (center), and Danielle Crumrine, Executive Director of Tree Pittsburgh

John Rosenow, Arbor Day Foundation Founder and President, Sarah Anderson, Program Coordinator at ACTrees (center), and Danielle Crumrine, Executive Director of Tree Pittsburgh

Danielle Crumrine, Executive Director of Tree Pittsburgh and a member of the ACTrees Board of Directors accepted the award on behalf of ACTrees, along with Sarah Anderson, ACTrees Program Coordinator. More on ACTrees’ award. Learn more and get involved in 2013 National NeighborWoods® Month.

Receiving the organizations highest award was Kemba Shakur, founder and Executive Director of Urban Releaf, an ACTrees member organization based in Oakland, CA. Shakur was honored with the prestigious Morton Award for 2013, the highest honor of the Arbor Day Foundation. The Nebraska-based organization noted Shakur’s “outstanding contribution to tree planting, conservation, and stewardship.”

Shakur works daily with low-income communities to plant trees, mentor young people and build neighborhood leaders, and Urban ReLeaf has distributed more than 15,000 trees to community members in total. In winning the Morton Award, Shakur joins an elite group of arborists and conservationists including Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai. More

ACTrees Board member Burnell “Burney” Fischer, a faculty member in the School of Public & Environmental Affairs at Indiana University in Bloomington, was honored by the Arbor Day Foundation with the “Frederick Law Olmsted” Award, named for the renowned 19th-century landscape designer. It recognizes an individual who has had a positive impact on the environment at a state or regional level.

Burney, Sarah, Kemba

(l-r) Burney Fischer, Indiana University, Sarah Anderson, ACTrees, and Kemba Shakur, Urban Relief

“I’m thrilled to be recognized. But the better news is that the award shines a very positive environmental light on Indiana,” Fischer said. “While my recent work is associated mostly with urban forests, in a much broader sense this is about all forests and environmental governance issues.” More

And ACTrees member organization Friends of Grand Rapids Park received the “Excellence in Urban Forest Leadership” Award which is given to one exceptional organization whose work provides innovative leadership in advancing sustainable community forestry efforts at a local, state, or national level.

In early 2012, Friends of Grand Rapids launched the “Urban Forest Project,” a partnership with the City of Grand Rapids, MI and local funding partner Grand Rapids Community Foundation. The project has grown to include a crowd-sourced tree map with over 18,000 trees located, ongoing training of 46 citizen foresters, hiring of an Urban Forest Project Coordinator, and development of new partnerships that moves the city toward a 40% canopy goal.

ADF awards group photo

Award winners (l-r) John Kevin Jefferson III, Urban Releaf, Eddie Tadlock, Friends of Grand Rapids Park, Burney Fisher, Indiana University, Kemba Shakur, Urban Relief, Sarah Anderson, ACTrees, and Danielle Crumrine, Tree Pittsburgh

Hundreds of Grand Rapids residents have already contributed to – and reaped the benefits of – this innovative project. “We share this honor with our community and partners helping grow a healthier urban forest,” says Steve Faber, Executive Director of Friends of Grand Rapids Parks. More

In all, 14 individuals, organizations, and companies were recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation during the annual Arbor Day Awards. The ceremony was held at Lied Lodge & Conference Center, located at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, Nebraska, on Saturday, April 27.

The Arbor Day Foundation is a nonprofit conservation and education organization of one million members, with the mission to inspire people to plant, nurture and celebrate trees. More information is at

Here’s Arbor Day Foundation’s video on ACTrees and the “Public Awareness of Trees” Award.