Washington, DC (April 27, 2012)- The White House honored tree planter Jackie Cole at a ceremony earlier this week in Washington, DC, called “Champions of Change: Greening Our Cities and Towns.” Cole was one of nine individuals recognized as Champions of Change who are using innovative approaches to promote energy efficiency, revitalize outdoor spaces and waterways, and adopt transportation solutions that conserve natural resources, improve walkability and improve other quality of life aspects of our towns and cities.
A former Galveston, TX, city Councilwoman and longtime environmentalist, Cole was honored for her efforts to replant 40,000 trees destroyed by Hurricane Ike. After the hurricane, Cole helped establish the city’s municipal tree committee and also founded the Galveston Island Tree Conservancy, a 501c3 nonprofit, to educate citizens and raise funds for replanting. She also was instrumental in passing an ordinance establishing an official tree committee charged with advising City Council on reforestation issues.
In partnership with the Texas Forest Service, City staff, and volunteers, assessments were done and plans made to replace the 100-year-old trees that had graced the historical neighborhoods of Galveston. Over the past three years more than 8,000 trees have been planted through a variety of Tree Conservancy programs, reforesting parks, boulevards, schools, right-of-way and private properties — with plans for another 3,000 trees this year, all paid for from donations.
“I know of no one more deserving than Jackie Cole,” Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski said. “She and her team have planted more than 8,500 trees since the storm and are on track to plant twice that number during the next two years.” Jaworski said virtually all tree-planting in Galveston has been done with private funding and with little help from tax payers. “This award honors not only Jackie, but all members of the Tree Conservancy and all Galvestonians who have worked so hard to replant the island,” he said.
During a discussion on sustainability with the honorees, broadcast live on the White House website, Cole advocated for trees to be viewed as critical infrastructure that is essential to the health, vitality and success of America’s cities. Read more of Jackie’s views about trees and green infrastructure at her White House blog post: “Restoring the Past, Preparing for the Future: Recovery after Natural Disaster.”