Lori Looks Back on the Tour des Trees 2015

Riders from behind
Tour des Trees riders started out in Orlando and ended in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Flu-stricken Lori is among them! Photo by R. Jeanette Martin

Last fall, our esteemed Council Treasurer Lori Brockelbank participated for her third year in a row in the STIHL Tour des Trees to benefit the TREE fund. The money raised supports research toward better methods for propagation, planting and care of urban trees. The Tour also funds education programs aimed at connecting young people with the environment and with career opportunities in the green industries.

Team NY 2015
Team New York, from left: Rex Webber, Frazer Pehmoeller, Lori Brockelbank, Deanna Zoerb, Jacques Brunswick, and Louise Desjardins. Photo by R. Jeanette Martin

Lori joined riders in Florida during the week of October 25-31. Lori rode as much of it as she could, given that she came down with the flu! Read on for an account from Lori. First, some interesting stats from the 2015 Tour des Trees:

*The 2015 riders raised a total of $320,000 for the Tree Fund.
*There were six riders representing New York State.
*There were 85 riders total, nine of whom were new to the Tour.
*New York placed second among all the chapters in the amount of money raised ($30,873) (Team Ohio was the biggest fund raiser).
*The total route was approximately 575 miles.
*The 2016 tour will be October and will be hosted in the Carolinas.
*Twelve trees were planted on the tour, including three memorial trees.

Lori on bike
Lori Brockelbank by R. Jeanette Martin

From Lori:
I want to thank each and every one of my supporters for my third year riding for the Stihl Tour des Trees. The 2015 Tour was amazing once again and filled with many new experiences. This year was especially tough for me, as on the first day I came down with the flu! I have not been sick in almost two years, but unfortunately the virus hit me hard in the first forty miles.

I am touched by the support and encouragement I received during the tour, and it was because of my supporters and me not wanting to let them down that I got on my bike each and every morning. I will admit the first few days I did not pedal all the miles I wanted to, but I did my best and gave it my all. After all, it’s not often you can ride your bike through Everglades National Park right next to an alligator and then have lunch with a guide and learn about the ecosystem of the Everglades.

kids tree planting
Planting trees with kids is an important part of the Tour des Trees. Photo by R. Jeanette Martin

We provided an outstanding educational opportunity to the communities we visited but in return, we received equally outstanding education from them. Among the many presentations, we heard from the University of Florida’s Dr. Ed Gilman on pruning and learned about invasive species in the Everglades and the natural history of South Florida from Dennis Giardina of the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission. We planted twelve trees and handed out countless numbers of children’s books about trees so they can continue to learn and maybe be inspired to join us in the future.

It always amazes me how through one book and one tree, together we can make a difference in the communities that we visit. And the supporters of the Tour des Trees together support research and education that will improve the quality of our urban forests immensely.

Resting riders. Photo by R. Jeanette Martin
Resting riders. Photo by R. Jeanette Martin

I plan on riding again next year, when we will be visiting the Carolinas, including many communities I have never seen nor heard of before. I hope you will consider supporting a rider for this event to help us continue making communities better one tree and one pedal at a time. Oh, and next year I will be taking lots of vitamin C before and during the tour to keep the flu away!

 

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