The Council Community at Mid-Year 2020: Narrated with Video Clips

This was initially shown at the 2020 mid-year Council Membership meeting. It looks at how the Council and larger NYS urban forestry community is adapting to the time of coronavirus, and video clips showcase two young professionals navigating these waters: Amanda Cruty and Nafisa Tabassum. Please enjoy and share!

Nafisa Tabassum: Onondaga Earth Corps Chronicles

We are excited to be following the progress of former student ambassador to NY ReLeaf, Nafisa Tabassum, who at the time of ReLeaf was working as an urban forest technician with Syracuse City Arborist Steve Harris. Nafisa earned her degree in Sustainable Energy Management from SUNY-ESF in 2019. She attended ESF Ranger School as part of her education, and she delivered the 2019 Commencement Address to her peers. Nafisa will be writing the Onondaga Earth Corps Chronicles for us this summer.

 

David Moore in ESF Magazine; Christina McLaughlin in Conservationist

An article about SUNY-ESF alum and Council Past President David Moore appeared in the Winter 2020 edition of ESF Magazine, a publication for alumni and friends of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

Called “Alumnus Honored as ‘Trailblazer’ Promotes Benefits of Urban Forestry,” the interview conducted by Judy Gelman Myers starts with David’s educational background in forestry and public policy, presents basic concepts of urban forestry, and ends with David urging people to see working in government as an opportunity and an honor.

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Getting to Know DEC’s Dan Gaidasz

Dan (far left) teaching kids in the Capital Region about tree planting on Arbor Day 2019. 

Dan Gaidasz is the NYSDEC Urban and Community Forestry Program Technical Coordinator.

Where did you grew up? Were you interested in nature from an early age?
Dan Gaidasz: I grew up in the Genesee Valley between Mount Morris and Geneseo. From a very young age, I have been interested in the outdoors. I grew up on a small farm and it was very rare to find me indoors unless I got myself in hot water with one of my siblings. Besides being surrounded by farmland and forests, I was also blessed having Letchworth State Park as my “back yard,” where I spent a lot of time exploring. In 6th grade, my school had several professionals come in and talk about their jobs; that’s when I was introduced to forestry. I couldn’t believe you could get paid being outdoors, walking the woods, and playing with heavy equipment. I knew then that I wanted to be a forester.

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Partnerships, Fruit Trees, and Land Restoration in the Peruvian Amazon, with James Kaechele

In his capacity as Arborist for the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation, James Kaechele demonstrated how to properly plant a limón sutil tree (Citrus aurantifolia) to a community in the Peruvian Amazon.

All Photos Courtesy James Kaechele & Fruit Tree Planting Foundation

What skills does an urban forester use when planting trees on disturbed land along an Amazon River tributary? “All of them,” says New York Tree Trust Director and Council Executive Committee Member James Kaechele. In early December, 2019, Kaechele, also a consulting arborist for the Pittsburgh-based international charity Fruit Tree Planting Foundation (FTPF), went with a team of staff and volunteers to the Loreta Region of Peru to plant 6,000 fruit trees in five Amazon River communities.

“As urban foresters, our job is equal parts plants and people,” Kaechele says. “We’re uniquely positioned to coordinate both the arboricultural and human aspects of a project like this. The land-use questions are the same; the site assessment process is the same; tree planting techniques are the same; you have to address any concerns people have—for example, the worry that some have about whether a tree will fall on their house—it’s the same skills that I use in the work I do with street trees and residents in NYC.” Furthermore, the land along the Amazon River is often severely degraded and in need of restoration, just like in the tree beds, parks, and natural areas of NYC—just degraded for different reasons.

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Getting to Know Council VP & Syracuse City Arborist Steve Harris

Steve Harris at the Syracuse Parks Department’s annual community tree planting event involving approximately 100 trees and 100 volunteers. The event is organized in partnership with local partners Cornell Cooperative Extension-Onondaga County and Onondaga Earth Corps. “It is always the highlight of the year,” Steve says. Photo Courtesy Onondaga Earth Corps

Steve Harris has been Syracuse City Arborist since 2010. He has served several terms on the Council Board and is now its Vice President. Steve is also active with the Society of Municipal Arborists, excelling in conference program planning.    

Can you tell us about your educational trajectory?
Steve Harris: When I was 9 or 10, my Dad gave me an atlas of the United States for my birthday. I studied it often and knew all the states and capitols before that was taught in school, which might be the reason I studied Urban Geography at Ohio State. In 1990, at the end of my senior year of college, one of my friends told me they’d enrolled in the Peace Corps. The idea of getting that kind of experience resonated with me, so I applied and was sent to The Gambia in West Africa to be a forest extension agent.

Upon my return to the States, I worked in an unrelated field for a couple of years before realizing that forestry was the career path for me. I attended Paul Smith’s College to get an Associate’s Degree in Pre-Professional Forestry then to SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry to get a Master’s Degree in Forestry. In both cases, my focus was forest management.

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2020 Quick Start Grants Info & Application

The New York State Urban Forestry Council is pleased to announce available funding for communities to hold a 2020 Arbor Day tree planting event and to establish a community-based forestry program. Many blog posts have appeared here about past recipients of this grant and how they used their Quick Start (also known as Arbor Day) grant funds.

Communities (and not-for-profits that work with communities) can apply for up to $1,000. Funding has been provided by the USDA Forest Service. Applications are due by 5 p.m. on February 14, 2020. Full grant information and application can be found here.

The intent of this grant is to help municipalities establish a community forestry program and move toward becoming a Tree City USA community. The Arbor Day Foundation prepared the following infographic about Tree City USA in New York.

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DEC Urban Forestry’s Andrea Nieves: Get to Know Her!

As an undergrad, Andrea Nieves worked on aquatic research projects at Hartwick College’s Pine Lake Environmental Campus in Oneonta, NY.

Andrea Nieves is the NYSDEC Environmental Education Assistant in the Urban Forestry program, covering the needs of the Trees for Tribs program as well.

I was born in Charlotte, North Carolina during the hottest summer on record at the time. When I was four, my parents and I moved to Hyde Park, New York—and I’ve been cold ever since. Nevertheless, despite having to always wear layers (even in summer), I’m glad to have grown up in the beautiful Hudson Valley, and not far from the Catskill Mountains.

There was a field near my house growing up that the neighborhood kids had cleverly named “The Field.” It is a very special place with several landmarks, namely “The Tree” and “The Woods.” I tried to spend as much time as possible there, where my friends and I would make up dance routines, catch pretend Pokémon, swing on a makeshift rope swing, and explore.

In my junior year in high school, the year when you’re somehow expected to know what you want to do with the rest of your life (as least so far as to choose a college major), I remembered exploring The Woods, climbing on logs, and exploring the tiny streams. I remembered the confident feeling that I got from knowing where I was, becoming familiar with the forest and recognizing certain features as landmarks: a bent tree, a mossy rock. I decided to major in Biology, and I focused on environmental research.

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