Reflection from NYC Parks Forester Julie Schondorf-Seghrouchni on ReLeaf 2016:
“This conference, as all past ReLeaf conferences, was exceptional. It was so well organized, packed with great educators, and set in a perfect venue. For me, in addition to expanding my education, it so much fun to be around so many tree lovers, since my friends and family just put up with all my tree talk.
I really liked the combination of classroom teaching and field education. In the “Tools of the Trade” workshop, we observed the actual usage of Level 2 inspection equipment, including how their findings are interpreted, and most importantly, how they are integrated in the total analysis of evaluating trees.
Neil Murphy’s presentation on water focusing on biology was a different angle that can be used to encourage people to recognize the value of trees in water management. It was exciting to see specific projects where trees are being used to filter, clean, and reduce storm water runoff.
I was happy to see examples of projects with suspended pavement. I have seen this technique working successfully overseas, and it seems to have a lot of promise for the urban environment.
There were so many excellent classes with lots of continuing education credits available that I was able to choose the best programs for my specific interests; although I would really have loved to go to everything. This was a wonderful opportunity to further my education in a serene setting with lots of like-minded people. My thanks to all the organizers and presenters.”
Did you know that scholarships toward registration for the annual ReLeaf conference are available through the DEC for qualified applicants? These folks received awards this year.
Dewitt’s Nicholas Quilty-Koval:
The Releaf Conference was fantastic. It was a great experience and I was able to talk to many great people who encouraged me to pursue my goal of a career in urban planning.
In my community I have the opportunity to go door-to-door and talk to people about receiving a free tree. I am involved in the Save The Rain program for the Town of Dewitt. This program works with OEC (Onondaga Earth Corps) in an attempt to educate the nearby community about the benefits of trees as well as saving the rain. Our goal is to plant trees in the local area in order to do things such as decrease the amount of flooding, improve the air quality, and improve the appearance of the neighborhoods. I am also involved in the Town’s attempt to save ash trees that have been impacted by emerald ash borer. I have marked trees for removal as well as treatment. I also work with database software to help track the trees in our area.
Every aspect of the conference gave me insight into new topics and I learned a lot. It also connected ideas that I had originally been exposed to in my first year at college. There are many great takeaways that I received from the conference; the biggest one came from the Urban Wood Utilization talks with Jim Maloney and Tom Derby. I learned that we should not grind up ash and other trees into mulch, but instead should try to make them into something more useful and high-value, from a bench to a turkey call. Doing this would allow for more revenue from the tree and more meaningful products. I learned that marketing is a big key to the success of this idea of reusing the wood from urban trees.
The Council’s 2015 Annual Report has been finalized and is ready for your review and distribution!
Our annual report serves many functions including:
Defining the Council’s mission and goals;
Illustrating how those mission and goals are pursued;
Measuring progress and quantifying accomplishments;
Re-capping all activities that took place in a year for the sake of creating a historic record; and
Creating a fact-filled deliverable that can be shared with constituents, stakeholders, partners, and policy-makers.
Many copies of this report have been printed and can be picked up at this week’s ReLeaf Conference in Saratoga Springs, but of course you can also download a digital copy yourself at any time. Please distribute far and wide to anyone who may be interested in hearing about the Council’s work!
Arborist Gary Raffel (pron. “Rough-FELL”) is a NYSUFC Board member and small business owner based in Bloomfield, south of Rochester.
What lead you to arboriculture and urban forestry? Gary Raffel: I grew up with an interest in the outdoors, including hunting and hiking, and from an early age wanted to become a forester. In high school, I did landscaping work for a friend’s start-up company and gravitated toward pruning trees and the thrill of climbing them to get a dead limb here or there. That turned into working for tree companies on summer breaks from Paul Smith’s College. Eventually, I decided to dual major at SUNY ESF in forestry and forest biology to integrate my desire to become a forester with my experience climbing and working in arboriculture.
While at ESF I took Paul Manyon’s tree pathology class and an entomology course and was hooked on the material and the desire to focus on individual trees. I worked for a summer in Pennsylvania marking timber and boundary lines for a consulting forestry company and I realized, though I loved the forest setting, I missed the thrill of climbing and focusing on the individual tree within the stand. It became clear to me that the real-world economics of timber stand management wasn’t always in accord with the textbook sustainable management practices I was so eager to implement. I also met too many foresters who had come to feel like the woods was a job site for them and they began to despise it. I wanted to keep the woods as a special place, one where I could always hike and hunt without feeling like I was on a job site. So from then on, I decided to focus my studies on arboriculture and urban forestry.
Sharon DiLorenzo is a program manager for Capital Roots, whose vision for the future of the Capital Region is “where every person has access to fresh, affordable, healthy food.” The organization is also involved in urban forestry projects and partnerships. She has served multiple terms on the NYSUFC Board and will be presenting on the work of Capital Roots as part of the “Fruits of the Urban Forest” workshop on Saturday morning of the upcoming (July 14-16) conference in Saratoga Springs.
My colleague Jeff Shimonski was the director of horticulture for Jungle Island in Miami, Florida for 39 years. He retired from that position in 2014 and now works as an urban forestry consultant. He also continues to write about horticulture for a variety of publications, including the Biscayne Times, for which he’s written 72 columns.
“Ever since I started working professionally in horticulture I always wanted to write articles for newspapers, magazines, and journals,” he says. “It was a big thrill for me to get published for the first time in an international journal.”
I remember that thrill, too. I’ve been freelance writing since 1998 and freelance editing since 2005. I can relate to both sides of the editor’s desk. I’ve been the writer whose submissions are rejected, and I’ve been the editor who had to do some polite rejecting. I have some thoughts to share based on my familiarity with both sides of the exchange.
Why write about urban forestry? First of all, our field needs more advocacy and visibility, in the form of online or print features, columns, and letters to the editor. The more publications we have a presence in—from small-town papers to national magazines and blogs—the more the field of urban forestry is elevated. You may also be motivated to write for the sheer pleasure and gratification of it, for a little extra money, to develop your writing ability, or to help promote your business. Sharing your expertise in a lively way is an effective form of marketing yourself, your company, or the nonprofit you’re involved with, while getting urban forestry out in the public eye.
Saratoga Springs (Pop. ~ 28,000) is a magical kind of town, one that invites you to explore it on foot. There are many reasons you may wish to come early or stay after the ReLeaf Conference (July 14-16), taking place at Skidmore College, ends.
*Skidmore College is a 10-minute walk to the very walkable city of Saratoga Springs, where horticulture has a longstanding and elevated station among the beautiful and historic buildings (see especially, Congress Park). A book was written about the horticultural history of Saratoga Springs called Saratoga in Bloom: 150 Years of Glorious Gardens by Janet Loughrey. You can see an article about the book and author here.
*Saratogians loves their urban forest. The City and the nonprofit Sustainable Saratoga Urban Forestry Project partner to get big things done. From the Urban Forestry Project website: “Sustainable Saratoga’s Urban Forestry Project (UFP) gained visibility during 2012 by deploying 125 volunteers to inventory more than 5600 street and park trees in Saratoga Springs. The City used our inventory to shape its first-ever Urban Forest Master Plan, funded by a DEC grant. The City invited the UFP to partner with it during the process of drafting the plan, which was adopted by the city council on May 21, 2013. The UFP quickly broadened its focus beyond the inventory, and now works on many fronts, educating about and advocating for the “preservation and expansion” of our urban forest. In 2014, we partnered with Saratoga Springboard and the City’s DPW to organize Tree Toga, a [now annual] Arbor Day tree planting initiative and a festival on Henry Street.”
Due to spring holidays, schools in New York City adopted May 6th as NYC Arbor Day. On that Friday last spring, most of the 59 participating schools planted their trees, which included flowering dogwoods, redbuds, wild cherries, maples, Colorado spruces, red oaks, black walnuts, river birches, honey locusts and black pines. Also planting were Urban Park Rangers at Inwood Hill Park, which is part of NYC Parks & Recreation.
The total number of trees planted was 234, which had been grown to size and carefully tended by students and teachers at John Bowne High School in Flushing, Queens. Students at Bowne participate in the Plant Science and Animal Science programs at this high school. The tree nursery is part of a small farm that is also home to animals, greenhouses, an orchard, and vegetable planting beds.