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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the Missouri Community Forestry Council (MCFC) are accepting nominations for the 2018 Missouri Arbor Award of Excellence. The annual award recognizes communities, institutions, businesses, organizations and individuals that make significant and long-lasting efforts to care for trees in their communities. Nominations are due by Friday, Jan. 5, 2018.

“Trees bring so much value to our communities, but their overall health depends on people practicing good tree stewardship on both public and private property,” said MDC Community Forestry Program Supervisor Russell Hinnah. “The more we work to take care of our trees, the more trees work for us by increasing property values, improving our air, saving energy, protecting our watersheds, and more.”

The Arbor Award of Excellence shines the spotlight on anyone who has improved trees in their community. Any significant program, project, or event that contributes to the care or maintenance of trees could qualify for an award.

“This award recognizes projects that demonstrate a sustained overall effort to care for trees,” said Hinnah. “I encourage everyone to consider the wonderful tree work in their communities and to nominate those who made it possible.”

Winners receive a framed award, a full registration scholarship to the MCFC conference in March, an extra ticket to the award banquet during the conference, a community forestry reference book, a $50 gift card, and a 5 percent bonus cost-share if selected for funding through MDC’s Tree Resource Improvement and Maintenance cost-share program.

For more information and nomination forms, visit mdc.mo.gov and search Missouri Arbor Award of Excellence.

2017 Arbor Award of Excellence Winners 

Individual—Mike Talbot, Elsberry

For the last several years, Elsberry Alderman Mike Talbot, a semi-retired nurseryman, has led the charge to manage the forest canopy in his town. He coordinated the city’s applications for Tree Resource Improvement and Maintenance (TRIM) grants, first to conduct a tree inventory and then to remove hazard trees. He organized the city’s Tree City USA application. Talbot was selected for the Arbor Award because he understands the need for a self-sustaining tree care program. He knows the challenges for a community with an ever-shrinking budget. He has worked hard to rally volunteers for the Page Branch Park Board, which helps the city with its community forestry tasks. His determination, persistence, and hard work for his community are inspiring.

Organization—Beyond Housing-24:1 Initiative

In 2016, a unique partnership developed between Beyond Housing and MDC. The organization wanted to add a forester to its staff and incorporate tree management to the 24 communities it serves in the Normandy School District in St. Louis. Since that forester was hired, Beyond Housing has received four TRIM grants, offered chainsaw training, conducted tree plantings, held Arbor Day celebrations, removed hazard trees and pruned city trees throughout its service area. That work is critical and quite impressive, considering it takes the coordination of 24 different mayors, city officials, public works divisions, and citizen groups.

Business or Institution—BASF Plant, Hannibal

Over the last several years, the BASF Hannibal plant has partnered with the Hannibal Tree Board to celebrate Arbor Day by planting a tree in a Hannibal park. In 2016, BASF celebrated its 150th anniversary and 50th year of operation at the Hannibal facility, and wanted to do something big for the community. They partnered with the city to plant over 300 trees along a creek that drains into the Mississippi River. This effort, which was accomplished with 50 BASF employees who volunteered their time, will have a huge impact on the community for decades.

Municipality/Government—City of Brunswick and Brunswick Tree Board

Brunswick has a population of only 858 people, but as the “pecan capital of Missouri,” their commitment to forestry is huge. They have been a Tree City USA for 16 years and work hard to hold innovative Arbor Day celebrations each year that involve the whole community. Their tree board successfully led the city’s efforts to obtain a TRIM grant that allowed them to conduct a tree inventory. Even in a town the size of Brunswick, a tree inventory is a significant step to the efficient management of community trees. They are more prepared to make sound decisions, plan maintenance, and deal with potential problems.