Urban and community foresters (both paid and volunteer) and their advocates and allies are some of the most interesting and warm people you will meet. I endeavored to meet everyone at the 2014 ReLeaf Conference at Hofstra, but alas, the buzzer went off too soon. I wish there had been more time to trade our stories! But thankfully, sharing our stories is something we can do in TAKING ROOT. For now, here are some of the ReLeafers I did get to meet. Warmly, Michelle Sutton, your TR Editor
For the members’ reception Thursday night of 2014 ReLeaf Hofstra, we were delighted to have a live rock band, Billy Goes Buffalo. The lead singer is Bram Gunther, Chief of Forestry, Horticulture, and Natural Resources for NYC Parks and Recreation. (Bram is also a novelist in his “free time.”) The bass guitarist is carpenter Tim Foster, and the drummer is David Maddox, publisher of The Nature of Cities. When asked for the story behind Billy Goes Buffalo, Bram says, “We are just friends having fun.”
Many college campuses have arboreta or like to say, “The whole campus is an arboretum!” At Hofstra, they take their arboretum to the next level, adding diverse, intensively planted gardens around every corner. I was truly blown away. Each evening after workshops and a happy frenzy of socializing, I strolled around the campus grounds by myself, mouth agape at the beauty and diversity, and took hundreds of pics.
For background, check out this terrific short video interview of Hofstra Arboretum Director Fred Soviero. Fred was truly on fire when giving us our tours; we loved his energy and great sense of humor! Then read on to the pictorial that follows.
I love this picture so much. To me, it captures the exuberance of ReLeaf 2014. Let’s break down who’s who and also talk about the Thomas Jefferson statue. -Michelle Sutton, Ed.
Anna Carragee is the Forest Program Assistant for Cornell Cooperative Extension Syracuse. Anna works on Onondaga County’s Save the Rain program to provide street trees to properties around the city in order to beautify neighborhoods, provide environmental benefits, and reduce combined sewer overflow events. Prior to that, she was an urban forest technician for the City of Syracuse. Anna received her BS in Natural Resources: Resource Ecology from the University of Vermont and is working on her Master’s in Environmental Horticulture.
Kim Zhang is the Forestry Program Educator for CCE Onondaga County. Kim earned her Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from SUNY – College of Environmental Science and Forestry with a concentration in community planning. During her time in school she interned at Wave Hill, working with youth in forest restoration. Prior to starting at CCE on the Save the Rain program, Kim worked at New York Restoration Project on the MillionTreesNYC initiative, working with cemeteries, faith-based institutions, and NYS Department of Transportation to get trees planted throughout NYC. Since then, she has worked with citizens on community planning meetings, garden designs, and supervised the construction of community gardens. Kim really enjoys working with communities at large and hopes to improve neighborhoods through green infrastructure.
The speakers for 2014 ReLeaf at Hofstra were dynamite! Here are some of them:
Tree Hugger from Upstate New York
By June S. MacArthur
From my earliest remembrance of about age three and a half, I lived in the countryside in Upstate New York on an apple orchard and chicken farm. I remember walking in the woods across from our house with my father and brother, Gerald, who was four years older. We were on a trail with Gerald ahead of me and Dad behind me when my father suddenly spoke sternly, “June! Stop now!” And I did. In the path ahead of me, where Gerald had just walked, was slowly uncurling a rattlesnake. Dad said, “Your brother seems to have woken up a rattler.”
Gerald yelled because he hadn’t seen it as he obviously had walked over it. My brother wanted to kill it but Dad said, “No, snakes are important. Just be aware that it’s their home too.” We watched it slither off into the underbrush. After that, I always made a point to watch where I was walking in fields or woods and was never surprised or afraid of snakes; I just gave them their own space.
Can you tell us about your childhood influences?
Andy Pleninger: I grew up in a neighborhood in Rochester, NY with mature black oaks and numerous diverse niche ecosystems ideal for play and exploration. Scouting took me to Camp Massaweppie in the Adirondacks, and camping trips with the family were exciting adventures. In the 1970s gypsy moth arrived and gorged on the oaks in my neighborhood. I also watched in awe as a tree surgeon climbed and worked on one of those giant neighborhood oaks. These events and experiences sparked and fostered my interest in the environment.
What has been your educational and career trajectory?
AP: My educational and career trajectories are intertwined. My interests and work and life experiences guided me to my career in urban forestry. Right out of high school I got a job with a tree service and enrolled at the local community college in pre-forestry studies. After my two years of studies I moved to Colorado with the intention of finishing a BS in forestry.
I worked in commercial landscaping and tree work and explored and pursued all the adventures the Rocky Mountains could offer. One of my jobs working as a tree surgeon had me pruning street trees for the City of Fort Collins, where I met the city forester. This was my introduction to urban forestry and I knew this is what I wanted to do. I returned to my studies at Colorado State University and completed a BS concentrating in urban forestry.
We are excited that the Nature Conservancy’s Bill Toomey will be our Conference keynote speaker at Hoffstra later this month (register here!). Bill oversees the Healthy Trees, Healthy Cities project of the Nature Conservancy. Healthy Trees, Healthy Cities is an initiative of The Nature Conservancy with programs currently running in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Tennessee.
Bill is currently the Director of Forest Health Protection working as part of the Nature Conservancy’s North American Forest Priority and the Conservancy’s Urban Conservation Strategies Initiative. Most recently, Bill served as the Executive Director of the Highstead Foundation, a conservation non-profit based in Connecticut, which advanced forest conservation work throughout New England. Prior to that he worked for The Nature Conservancy for 10 years in the Connecticut and Massachusetts Chapters where he held positions as stewardship ecologist, landscape project director, and major gift fundraiser. He has also worked for the City of San Jose, California where he managed the residential recycling and composting program. Bill holds a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Fairfield University and a master’s degree in Soil Science and Ecology from North Carolina State University. Bill is also an ISA certified Arborist and is a member of the CT Urban Forest Council.
Here’s a link to a great interview the Conservancy did with Bill about his background and the Healthy Trees, Healthy Cities initiative, and here’s an excellent video about the Nature Conservancy’s Urban Strategies:
From the Healthy Trees… site:
Healthy Trees, Healthy Cities is improving the health of America’s trees by engaging people in hands-on tree care and inspiring a new generation of environmental stewards. How do we do it?
We start with:
- Assessing urban forest health to inform tree planting and management;
- Training volunteers in tree stewardship and tree health monitoring;
- Engaging youth and the public;
- Raising awareness about the importance of trees and what people can do to keep trees healthy through education and outreach; and
- Working with local partners to ensure the successful implementation of the program.
By Tim Chick, NYSUFC Board Member, Town of Lake Placid Tree Board Member, Paul Smith’s adjunct professor
Photos by Sally Kellogg, DEC Urban Forestry Program Assistant
On May 14, 2014 the Lake Placid/North Elba Tree Board held its 13th annual Arbor Day ceremony. The program was held in Peacock Park on the shores of Mirror Lake under a beautiful sunny sky. Although the Weather Channel predicted that storms would pass to the Northeast, community members who are used to rapidly changing weather in the North Country came prepared with rain coats and umbrellas.