Arbor Day Foundation Awards Finalists Announced

Leaders in tree planting, conservation, and environmental stewardship from around the country and world to be honored through the annual Arbor Day Awards
Jan 10, 2018 8:00 AM ET

LINCOLN, Neb., January 10, 2018 /3BL Media/ -  The Arbor Day Foundation has announced finalists for its annual recognition program with the winners to be announced prior to National Arbor Day on April 27, 2018. Since 1972, the Foundation has presented awards for work at the international, national, state, and community levels to recognize conservation efforts such as tree planting and care, Arbor Day celebrations, education, community projects, and roadside beautification. This year 24 finalists have been identified for six awards including:

The Spirit of Arbor Day Award which recognizes an organization or community that fulfills the Foundation’s mission through programs and activities that have been implemented within the past five years.

  • Uttar Pradesh & Madhya Pradesh, India:

Government officials in these two central Indian states organized mass plantings of 50 million (2016) and 66 million trees (2017), respectively, to set—and then break—the record for the most trees planted in a single day, recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records.

  • Armenia Tree Project, Woburn, Massachusetts, USA:

Armenia Tree Project is working to create a secure, independent and sustainable Armenia through environmental education, community-based tree planting, and advocacy.

  • City of Las Vegas, Nevada, USA:

Following the mass shooting in October 2017 that left 58 people dead, local landscape architects brought together contractors, city workers, and volunteers in less than one week to build a permanent memorial—featuring 58 trees—to honor the victims.

  • Plant-for-the-Planet, Munich, Germany:

This worldwide network of young tree planters began with a school presentation by a nine-year-old German boy (Felix Finkbeiner) and today Plant-for-the-Planet is a global movement with an ambitious goal: to fight the climate crisis by planting trees around the world. 

The J. Sterling Morton Award which recognizes an individual who has had a positive impact on the environment due to his or her lifelong commitment to tree planting and conservation. The individual will have demonstrated a commitment to advancing tree planting and care through a record of education, work experience, talent, and temperament.

  • Dr. Greg McPherson, Davis, California, USA:

Greg calls himself a “green accountant” and has developed new tools for quantifying the benefits from city trees. His research—on the effects of trees on energy use, urban heat islands, air pollutant uptake, carbon sequestration, and rainfall interception—is helping to justify investments in urban forest planning and management.

  • Jadav Payeng, Arun Chapori Village, Assam, India:

Since the 1970's, Majuli islander Jadav Payeng has been planting trees in order to save his island. To date he has single handedly planted a forest larger than Central Park (New York City), transforming what was once a barren wasteland into a lush oasis.

  • Jim Hubbard, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA:

Jim Hubbard spent his 30+ year career as a forester—first as a state forester for Colorado, then as Deputy Chief of State & Private Forestry for the USDA-Forest Service—advocating for national programs and funding to improve the urban and rural forests of America.

  • David Forsell, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA:

Dave Forsell was the first tree planter at Keep Indianapolis Beautiful (KIB) and is now president of the nonprofit, devoted to “helping people and nature thrive.” He has forged KIB into a national leader of community development through greenspace-making and urban forestry.

  • Edith Makra, Chicago, Illinois, USA:

Edith has contributed her passion, skill and energy to plant, nurture and celebrate trees. Her ability to connect people with trees landed her influential roles in local government and non-profit leadership, where she helped turn a shared vision of Chicago as a sylvan city into reality.

The Trail Blazer Award which recognizes an individual under the age of 35 who has demonstrated leadership in forestry, community forestry, research, or tree care during the past five years.

  • Crystal Courtney, Covington, Kentucky, USA:

Crystal is the Urban Forester for the City of Covington where she has developed programs to enhance native tree diversity and build a better community. She is an advocate for tree planting, conservation, and smart urban planning, as well as a role model for local volunteers.

  • Erica Smith Fichman, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA:

In 2012, Erica Smith Fichman developed TreePhilly, an urban forestry outreach program with the goal of increasing tree canopy to 30% across every neighborhood in Philadelphia. Under Erica’s leadership, TreePhilly strives to ensure that its programs are accessible to all residents of Philadelphia.

  • Jessica Sanders, Washington, District of Columbia:

Jessica has a passion for the urban forest and leads research at Casey Trees focusing on enhancing urban forestry practices. Under her tenure, she created citizen-science initiatives to engage the general public in tree planting, maintenance, and research.

The Headwaters Award which celebrates innovative programs — in rural or urban areas — that support the improvement of water quality and quantity through forestry activities.

  • Cacapon Institute, Great Cacapon, West Virginia, USA:

For more than 30 years, Cacapon Institute has focused on protecting West Virginia’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, while also supporting forestry-related education and projects along the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and into western Maryland. As a regional leader in forestry activities, the Cacapon Institute uses tree planting, education, and stewardship as solutions for improving water quality.

  • Urban Waters Federal Partnership, Washington, District of Columbia:

The Urban Waters Federal Partnership (UWFP) is a collaborative anchored by the USDA Forest Service (USFS), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Interior (DOI), working across landscape and organizational boundaries to restore urban waters in 19 locations across the country to revitalize surrounding communities.

  • Team Willamette, Portland, Oregon, USA:

This collaborative team of non-profits, state, and regional agencies share messaging and resourcesc as members of the Willamette River Initiative. Over the past seven years, Team Willamette has planted more than 3.9 million trees and shrubs for water quality and habitat improvement in the Willamette Basin.

  • Stroud Water Research Center, Avondale, Pennsylvania, USA:

Since 1967, the Stroud Water Research Center has focused on one thing—fresh water. They seek to advance knowledge and stewardship of freshwater systems through global research, education, and watershed restoration. Since 2014, more than 70 farms have installed 650 or more conservation practices costing more than $10 million, including 300 acres of forested buffers on 31 miles of stream.

The Champion of Trees Award which recognizes a government entity, community-based organization, or partnership among such groups that has demonstrated exemplary leadership to develop and implement new policies and practices for municipal tree planting and care, natural area stewardship, or arboriculture.

  • City of San Francisco & Friends of the Urban Forest, California, USA:

The city and their non-profit partner, Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF), used a community planning process to write a new urban forest management plan that identified street tree care as a major problem. Then FUF led the outreach plan to pass a ballot measure to allow the city to take back control of street trees. Measure E passed with 75% support and guarantees $19 million per year for street tree care in San Francisco.

  • City of Los Angeles-Department of Water & Power, California, USA:

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has been planting trees for energy efficiency for almost two decades and in the process, has planted approximately 250,000 trees. In 2014, LADWP expanded its tree planting efforts through the City Plants program, which gives away between 15,000 and 20,000 trees each year. Residents of Los Angeles can receive up to seven free yard trees or sign up for street trees to be planted in front of their home.

  • City of Charlotte & TreesCharlotte, North Carolina, USA:

In 2011, city council adopted a tree canopy coverage goal of 50% by the year 2050. To help support the goal, the city formed TreesCharlotte, a civic/private collaborative that works to achieve the “50x50” goal by raising private dollars to plant trees, educate, create awareness, and energize the community.

  • City of Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA:

In 2014, City Council took the first step to implement a comprehensive Urban and Community Forest Management plan (UCFMP) by allocating an additional $1 million to the city forestry budget. This funding was allocated to address the lingering impacts of the Emerald Ash Borer infestation—particularly the backlog of high priority tree pruning and tree/stump removals.

  • RETREET, Dallas, Texas, USA:

RETREET engages community volunteers to replant lost trees, imparting new hope to people whose sense of home and place have been uprooted in the wake of natural disasters. Their passion is to make replanting trees a central part of the response to catastrophic destruction, restoring communities for generations to come.

  • Up With Trees, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA:

Up With Trees has been responsibly increasing tree canopy cover and greening Tulsa since 1976, planting more than 30,000 trees at more than 700 sites throughout Tulsa. In 2016, the non-profit coordinated a tree canopy assessment and ecosystem assessment for Tulsa County and an urban forest master plan for the City of Tulsa.

The Friend of the Forest Award which recognizes a corporation and its leaders for their commitment to using trees and forests to achieve corporate sustainability goals and targets.

  • Kimberly-Clark, Irving, Texas, USA:

Kimberly-Clark has been manufacturing essentials for a better life for almost 150 years, with the concept of sustainability central to their business strategy. As one of the world’s largest buyers of market pulp, protecting forests is critical to addressing climate change, conserving terrestrial biodiversity and ensuring a resilient, healthy supply chain, so responsible forestry is just one of the ways they care for the planet.

  • Procter & Gamble Family Care Brands, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA:

Procter & Gamble is a major buyer of wood pulp used to make many of their familiar brands, with all of this material adhering to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certifications. In addition, they are working with the American Forest Foundation (AFF) in the Carolinas for reforestation, landowner outreach, and improved forestry management to bolster sustainable forestry efforts across the Carolinas.

More information about the awards and past winners can be found at


About the Arbor Day Foundation
Founded in 1972, the Arbor Day Foundation has grown to become the largest nonprofit membership organization dedicated to planting trees, with more than one million members, supporters, and valued partners. During the last 45 years, more than 250 million Arbor Day Foundation trees have been planted in neighborhoods, communities, cities and forests throughout the world. Our vision is to help others understand and use trees as a solution to many of the global issues we face today, including air quality, water quality, climate change, deforestation, poverty and hunger.

As one of the world’s largest operating conservation foundations, the Arbor Day Foundation, through its members, partners and programs, educates and engages stakeholders and communities across the globe to involve themselves in its mission of planting, nurturing and celebrating trees.  More information is availa