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Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council Annual Awards

2024 awards

The Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council presents annual awards to outstanding individuals, organizations, communities and tribes that further urban forestry in Wisconsin. The awards are announced each year at the annual Wisconsin Urban Forestry Conference and presented to winners in their local communities.

Project Partnership

Award winner: Wachtel Tree Science, Johnson's Nursery, and Ronald McDonald House Charities

4 people standing on a small bridge

This award recognizes the time, trade expertise and the professional skills two exceptional green industry businesses in southeast Wisconsin have contributed to this project since 2008. Wachtel Tree Science and Johnson’s Nursery’s commitment to planting and maintaining the trees at Ronald McDonald House Charities ensures that visitors have a relaxing environment to surround themselves with, including a well-maintained landscape. This project is an excellent example of how landscape and nature can act as a comforting source of health and healing, especially to those enduring hardships.

Innovations in Urban Forestry

Award winner: City of Mauston's Living Food Pantry

Mauston Living Food Pantry

This award recognizes Jordan Wilke and the City of Mauston's Living Food Pantry. Fruit-bearing trees and an irrigation system were strategically planted in a city park, making fresh fruit accessible to the public and differentiating it from traditional community gardens. This multiphase project is designed for future expansion to address the ongoing needs of this area classified as a food desert. This project exemplifies innovation, resilience and community spirit. This visionary initiative has not only breathed new life into a struggling urban space but also set a shining example of sustainable urban forestry and community engagement.


Award winner: Jon Crain

bearded man on a bicycle

Since Jon was hired in 2011, he has been responsible for completely transforming the Forestry Department in the City of Port Washington. Under his leadership, Jon has increased the inventory of city owned trees by more than 50%, saved approximately 25% of the ash tree population, removed acres of invasive species, restored wetlands, improved species diversity, established numerous partnerships, secured multiple grants, developed the GIS for forestry, established a nursery and donated countless volunteer hours. Jon also engages the next generation by working with school and community groups to instill an appreciate of trees and their benefits.


Award winner: Julia Arata-Fratta

headshot of woman with brown shoulder-length hair

As mayor of the city of Fitchburg, Julia Arata-Fratta is a passionate supporter of trees in the community. She understands the vital social and ecosystem services tree canopy provides to the city and the positive impact trees have on residents’ physical and mental health. While serving as an alderperson, Julia guided the draft tree preservation ordinance through city committees and councils. Once elected mayor, she continued to champion the ordinance and brought it to the common council which passed it with a unanimous vote. As the city continues to develop at a rapid pace, this ordinance will give policymakers the information they need to incorporate existing trees in the development process.

Lifetime Achievement

Award winner: Christopher Birkett

Men planting trees

Christopher Birkett served as the Director of Public Works in Rochester from 2007 through the end of his tenure, which will be in October 2023. His work includes conducting a tree inventory, developing a program to manage problem trees and increasing tree diversity in the village. He took his commitment and outstanding dedication a step further and established an arboretum to address a multitude of issues in the community. The work that he has done in the Village of Rochester will ensure that future residents can enjoy trees for decades to come.

Past Recipients

Award recipients from previous years

Award Categories

The Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council presents annual awards to outstanding individuals, organizations, communities and tribes that further urban forestry in Wisconsin. The awards are announced each year at the annual Wisconsin Urban Forestry Conference and presented to winners in their community.

There are six categories of awards:

  1. Next Gen recognizes an organization or individual working to inspire and educate the next generation of citizens engaged with their urban forests through projects, activities and a variety of additional contributions. These inspiring adults will support the future growth and development of the field by encouraging these youth to become the next generation of urban forestry professionals and its supporters. Eligible programs engage youth through age 18.
  2. Project Partnership recognizes outstanding projects that utilize partnerships as a means of providing services or benefits to the urban forest.
  3. Lifetime Achievement recognizes outstanding contributions to urban forestry in Wisconsin demonstrated throughout a lifetime career.
  4. Innovations in Urban Forestry recognizes a community, individual, association or organization exhibiting outstanding innovations in the development or enhancement of an urban forestry project or program. This award recognizes the creativity, commitment and success of urban forestry efforts.
  5. Leadership recognizes an individual or elected official at the county or local level of government who has made an outstanding recent contribution to urban forestry in Wisconsin. This could be a mayor, alderman, county executive or citizen who has gone above and beyond in their support. Wisconsin State Legislators who have made outstanding contributions to urban forestry will also be considered after they have completed their terms of office.
  6. Species Diversity recognizes individuals and organizations who have made an outstanding contribution to the promotion of species diversity through projects, outreach and other activities.

Nomination Process

Nominations for 2025 awards must be submitted by Oct. 31, 2024 and include:

  • Suggested award category.
  • Name(s), address(es) and phone number(s) of the individual/organization, group or project being nominated.
  • Project name, if applicable.
  • Name(s), address(es) and phone numbers(s) of persons to be contacted regarding the nomination.
  • A description of the merits of the nominee or the achievements of the project or partnership. Include the goals/objectives of the project and detail the outcome or impact the action had on the community. Why do you believe this nominee is deserving of the award? Feel free to attach any supporting documents (news clippings, photos, letters, etc.) that strengthen the nomination.

Please keep nominations to a maximum of two pages (not including attachments).

Send nominations to UFC Awards Committee Chairperson Lee Fredericks at

For additional information, please contact a Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council member or regional urban forestry coordinator.