California Urban Tree Advocate Named National Volunteer of the Year

Alliance for Community Trees Announces 2013 Winner and Finalists

Washington, DC (March 31, 2014) — Alliance for Community Trees is honored to announce that Peter Diep, a volunteer with Los Angeles-based nonprofit TreePeople, has received its 2013 Volunteer of the Year Award. The award highlights inspirational volunteers who are transforming communities with trees and improving the neighborhoods where they live.

Peter Diep meets Senator Barbara Boxer at the Policy Summit

Peter Diep meets Senator Barbara Boxer at the Policy Summit

“Volunteers are the heart of local tree nonprofits, providing the resources and energy that make tree planting and care possible,” says Carrie Gallagher, Alliance for Community Trees Executive Director. “Peter Diep embodies all the qualities that make for a great volunteer. He’s knowledgeable and passionate about urban forests, and an inspiring leader to those around him.”

As part of the award, Diep traveled to Washington, DC, in May to attend the Alliance for Community Trees Policy Summit, where he met with California’s Congressional delegation to promote the value of trees and green infrastructure for solving urban challenges.

Since first volunteering with TreePeople in 2011, Diep has demonstrated remarkable dedication to creating a greener Los Angeles. He has volunteered almost every weekend to plant, care for, and educate about trees with TreePeople. This includes everything from coordinating reforestation efforts in the Santa Monica Mountains and Angeles National Forest to planning and leading tree plantings in his own Sherman Oaks neighborhood.

Peter Diep at a tree planting with the Los Angeles nonprofit TreePeople

Peter Diep at a tree planting with TreePeople

“If we had an army of Peter Dieps, our job of trying to turn Los Angeles into a healthier, more sustainable city would be nearly done,” says Danny Carmichael, TreePeople Park Forestry Manager.

Diep’s passion has inspired many more Angelenos to take action for trees. His infectious positivity and work ethic have won the admiration of his community, motivating new volunteers to get involved and current volunteers to become leaders. A model of reliability, warmth, optimism, and action for a greener future, Diep is also a model for all who wish to make a difference in their communities.



Volunteer of the Year Award Runner-Up

Runner-Up Dr. Barry Johnson of Detroit, MI

Runner-Up Dr. Barry Johnson of Detroit, MI

The runner-up for the Alliance for Community Trees 2013 Volunteer of the Year Award is Dr. Barry Johnson, who has volunteered with The Greening of Detroit almost every Saturday during planting seasons since 1989.

Since serving as the original Citizen Forester at The Greening of Detroit’s first volunteer tree planting, Johnson has displayed incredible commitment not just to planting, but also to training the next generation of tree stewards. Dean Hay, Director of Green Infrastructure at The Greening of Detroit, calls Johnson “the original single-man tree planting force.”

“With his trusted Craftsman shovel in hand, he has either planted or taught others to plant over 15,300 trees with The Greening over his 24 year tenure,” says Hay. “We can think of no other volunteer who has had a larger impact on Detroit’s urban forest in the past quarter century.”

National Finalists

Every day, volunteers are working with nonprofits and governments in cities across the country to plant and care for trees. Their hard work makes communities cleaner, greener, and healthier. Alliance for Community Trees is pleased to honor their success by recognizing local Finalists for the 2013 Volunteer of the Year Award.

Frye quickly became a stand-out volunteer since he began caring for Seattle’s urban forest with EarthCorps in 2013. In a short 8 months, Frye dedicated 125 hours to greening his community, becoming a Puget Sound Steward and bringing his hard working ethic, attention to detail, and positive spirit to each volunteer shift.

Before starting his academic career at Texas A&M University, Guynes volunteered 163 hours in just 5 months at the Texas Tree Foundation’s Urban Tree Farm and Education Center. Each week he battled the oppressive Texas summer heat to help care for the thousands of trees at the Farm, displaying remarkable determination, passion, and potential for a bright future in the arboriculture field.

A very active volunteer for the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council, Haller has served on the Council’s board since 2000 and is the only member to have ever served as President for two terms. His guidance, commitment, and go-getter attitude have been a positive light for the Council’s direction and impact.

A valued volunteer and partner with the City of Marshall, Martin helped establish the Marshall Tree Board and initiated the “Greening of Marshall” project. He organizes volunteers and secures all funds for Marshall’s twice-annual community tree plantings, works with the city to implement a GIS inventory system, and takes it upon himself to mulch, trim, and water trees in his own time.

An exceptional volunteer who attends and organizes many events throughout the year, Patchel has made an important impact on the Wilkinsburg community by teaching others about trees and plants. Whether he is identifying plants for kids at a high school rain garden, digging tree holes with students from the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, or advocating for trees at the Boys and Girls Club of Wilkinsburg, Patchel’s hands-on, contagious, and charismatic style is well-known and well-loved.

A true tree champion, spark plug, and model of generosity, Plantenberg is actively introducing Montana residents to the concept of urban forestry. Using his own equipment, time, and money, he has recruited volunteers and planted hundreds of trees in his community, as well as promoting urban forestry in cities across the state. He has helped organize arborist conferences, created a tree planting partnership with the largest utility company, collected tree inventory data, made presentations, and donated his time and equipment to neighboring communities for tree planting events and Arbor Day celebrations.

Since first volunteering with Tree Musketeers in 2007 as an 11-year-old, Poyourow has contributed over 1,000 hours to help make his community greener. As a Manager and Board President of the youth-led organization, this true leader has supervised dozens of volunteer sessions, educated adult and youth volunteers about tree care, expanded the organization’s website and outreach programs, spoken before the City Council, and coordinated the organization’s National NeighborWoods® Month events.

Congratulations to all the finalists! Learn more about the Alliance for Community Trees Volunteer of the Year Award and find out how you can volunteer with a tree organization near you to make a difference in your community.