ReLeaf 2018 at RIT, Part IV: Networking & Advocacy

Council President Karen Emmerich (at left) has nurtured the spirit of advocacy required in these times to keep urban and community forestry properly funded. Here, conferees send postcards to legislators about why UCF funding is so vital. All photos by Michelle Sutton
ReLeafers had fabulous weather for their tour of Rochester’s iconic Mount Hope Cemetery.
The Council Members Reception on Thursday evening came with complimentary drinks and catered eats.

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ReLeaf 2018 at RIT, Part III: Sustainability Tour

RIT Sustainability Initiatives Manager Harshita Sood (far right, front) gave a phenomenal tour of the campus through the lens of sustainability. Here, the tour group just passed through the heart of the quad, underlain with geothermal tech. The campus has very popular low-tech programs, too, like “Goodbye, Good Buy,” in which incoming students can inexpensively purchase furniture and other items left behind by the previous spring’s graduating students. All photos by Michelle Sutton
Welcome to RIT’s Golisano Institute for Sustainability, home to biofuels, fuel cells, and smart building test beds; NanoPower and sustainable manufacturing labs; the Center for Remanufacturing and Resource Recovery; and much, much more. rit.edu/gis

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ReLeaf 2018 at RIT, Part I: Faces of NYS Urban & Community Forestry

Onondaga Earth Corps folks at the Friday night picnic. OEC Director and new Council Board Member Greg Michel is at front left. All photos by Michelle Sutton
NYC Parks Foresters Leanna Kirschen (left) and Ariane Trani
Claire and Ryan Burkum of Burkum Plant Health and Tree Care attended ReLeaf for the first time. Claire is a biologist and pest diagnostician and Ryan is a certified arborist.

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Rochester ReLeaf: RIT, Our Extraordinary Campus Host

Our campus host for Rochester ReLeaf 2018 is the world-renowned Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). RIT is a privately endowed, coeducational university with nine colleges emphasizing career education and experiential learning.

  • RIT was founded in 1829! How is this possible, you say? You can read the history here.
  • The RIT campus occupies 1,300 acres in suburban Rochester, which is the third-largest city in New York State. RIT also has international locations in China, Croatia, Dubai, and Kosovo.
  • The student body consists of approximately 15,700 undergraduate and 3,250 graduate students. Students from across the United States and from over 100 countries attend RIT. Nearly 3,500 students from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds are enrolled on the main campus along with more than 2,700 international students. An additional 2,200 students are enrolled at RIT’s international locations.
  • Women were welcomed at RIT decades before other colleges even considered co-education.
  • RIT is the third largest producer of undergraduate STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) degrees among all private universities in the nation.
  • The Institute’s programs ranking in the top 10 nationally are in the following areas: computing security, film and animation, fine arts (glass, metals and jewelry design), industrial design, online MBA, photography, and video game design.
  • RIT has award-winning programs in a host of uncommon disciplines: sustainability, medical illustration, microelectronic engineering, packaging science, museum studies, American sign language/English interpretation, and diagnostic medical sonography.
  • RIT is home to the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID), the world’s first and largest technological college for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. President Lyndon Johnson and Congress established NTID in 1968.
  • One of the world’s greenest universities, RIT has two LEED platinum buildings and several LEED gold level buildings. RIT is home to the Golisano Institute for Sustainability and a massive 2-megawatt, 6.5-acre solar energy farm—among the largest for any New York college.

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Rochester ReLeaf Keynote: New York Tree Law

The Friday morning keynote address for Rochester ReLeaf will be given by Laura E. Ayers, Esq., who specializes in property matters all over the State. One of her firm’s specialties is adjoining landowner disputes that involve tree ownership and maintenance. In this hour keynote, Laura will present on interesting facets of New York Tree Law pertinent to those of us involved in urban and community forestry.

Rochester ReLeaf Beckons: Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Documentary Screening & Discussion

On Thursday afternoon (July 26) of the Council’s ReLeaf Conference in Rochester, panelists Cornell Extension Associate Mark Whitmore, NYS Parks Natural Heritage Program’s Julie Lundgren, and Finger Lakes Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM) Coordinator Hillary Mosher will be screening “The Hemlock Woolly Adelgid: A Film About the Loss of an Ecosystem.”

This award-winning, 23-minute film is an educational visual resource to engage, raise awareness, and create momentum on this destructive forest pest and invasive species in general. A panel discussion will follow the film.

Rochester ReLeaf Beckons: New York’s First EcoDistrict

One of ReLeaf 2018’s (July 26-28 in Rochester) Saturday morning workshops is “EcoDistricts: Resilient and Sustainable Cities from the Neighborhood Up.” Rochester’s High Falls neighborhood is the site of the first registered EcoDistrict in the State of New York. The international EcoDistricts organization provides the protocol for EcoDistricts. Leadership for the EcoDistrict at High Falls is provided within Rochester-based nonprofit, Greentopia, which is also working to develop a High Line-style Garden Aerial around the Genesee River Gorge. EcoDistrict Coordinator Rachel Walsh will be presenting on the exciting new EcoDistrict at High Falls.

Values of the EcoDistrict: 

  • Neighborhoods and districts are the building blocks of sustainable cities.
  • Everybody – regardless of class, race, age, religion, gender identity, or sexual orientation – deserves to live in a healthy, safe, connected and vibrant neighborhoods.
  • Economic opportunity, community well-being, and ecological health are fundamental ingredients for sustainable neighborhoods and cities.
  • Neighborhood sustainability requires a new model for action – rooted in collaboration and greater inclusion – to co-create innovative district-scale projects.
  • Social equity, inclusion, and democracy are essential to sustainable neighborhood development.

Rochester ReLeaf Beckons: Mount Hope Cemetery

One of the tour options for ReLeaf 2018 in Rochester (July 26-28) is the sublime Mount Hope Cemetery. If you can’t make the tour, you can visit this public cemetery at another time during your stay in Rochester. 

Dedicated in 1838 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places since 1974, Mount Hope Cemetery is the oldest municipally operated Victorian cemetery in the United States. Mount Hope is a rare example of rural Victorian cemetery design, a uniquely preserved urban park, a year round recreational resource and arboretum, a historic outdoor museum and, often most notably, the final resting place of Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony.

The Cemetery is situated on Mount Hope Avenue on 196 acres of land adjacent to the University of Rochester. The geology of Mount Hope is complemented by the original forest in which Mount Hope’s design carefully took shape. Mount Hope has more than 2000 inventoried trees, many of them mature. In 2009, more than 20% of the trees in Mount Hope were characterized as historic, including 250-year-old native oak trees as well as rare specimen trees gifted to the Cemetery in 1848 by famed 19th-century horticulturists George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry. 

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SUNY ESF Students Reflect on ReLeaf 2017

Sarah Tyo is a Forest Health student at SUNY ESF and Rachel Grumm is a recent grad of SUNY ESF working as an urban forestry aide for Syracuse Parks and Recreation under the direction of Steve Harris. Sarah and Rachel received scholarships from the Council to attend ReLeaf 2017.

Sarah Tyo
SUNY ESF Forest Health student Sarah Tyo

Sarah Tyo
I am very grateful to have been able to attend the 2017 ReLeaf Conference at St. John’s University in Queens. I participated in the Natural Areas Tour that visited Alley Pond Park in Queens. It was the first natural area of the five boroughs that I’d been to, and I couldn’t believe how much plant diversity there was and how many trees were growing there. It had felt like we were transported to a forest in the country, minus the few random sounds of car horns. The City’s efforts in planting native species were apparent as tulip trees, northern red oaks, and other native trees filled the canopy. The tour was also a great way to get our legs moving.

During Friday’s lunch I was able to attend the first-ever ReLeaf Women’s Summit where anyone was welcome to sit and talk about being a woman in a male-dominated career field. It was a great way to meet other women who are established as professionals in urban forestry and hear about their experiences.

I attended the Saturday morning Forest Health and Research Update panel for the forests in NYC and Long Island. I have a personal interest in tree pests and pathogens, so I thought the panel was very informative and eye opening! A DEC Forest Health specialist went through the major threats facing our forests such as oak wilt, Asian longhorned beetle, hemlock woolly adelgid, and many more! In New York we currently have a good number of pests feeding on our trees that we all need to be aware of and address.

These experiences, along with other panels and activities at this year’s ReLeaf Conference, made it an event that I will not forget. A big thank you to everyone who helped put this conference together and came to present! I thoroughly enjoyed my first conference and I am looking forward to next year’s. I hope to see you all there.

Rachel Grumm and Colby
Rachel Grumm and Colby

Rachel Grumm
The conference was an amazing experience and I was honored to be given the opportunity to be a part of it. This experience was exactly what I needed as I’m working to set up my career path. I’ve really enjoyed the work I’ve done so far as part of my introduction to the urban forestry field and this event solidified the fact that this field is where my career is going. What excites me the most about urban forestry is that it’s such a diverse field aimed at bettering the surrounding environment and community.

My favorite part of the conference was the workshops. All the speakers were inspiring, fascinating, and positive. The workshop that stood out the most to me was “Post-Sandy Lessons Learned.” I liked how all three speakers took the storm as a way to learn more—and adapt. I participated in the Alley Pond Tour; in the past, I would pass Alley Pond on my way upstate but never before had the chance to visit. This natural area stunned me—I didn’t think this would exist in New York City!

I would like to thank the Council for providing funding for me to attend ReLeaf. I learned a lot, and it was an event I’ll always remember.