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Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council Annual Awards

2020 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 community.

Lifetime Achievement

A photo of this year's Lifetime Achievement Award winner.

Award winner: Chuck Nass

We are pleased to recognize Chuck Nass for his leadership and dedication promoting and improving urban forestry, especially within his home city of Whitewater. Before his recent retirement as their City Forester and Superintendent of Streets and Parks, Chuck was successful at growing the city’s urban forestry program, attended the DNR’s Community Tree Management Institute, and later returned to CTMI as an instructor. His efforts working with the city’s engineers resulted in a positive relationship, giving him access to street plans early enough in the process to be effective and enabling him to incorporate tree protection and planting elements. Chuck also created an engaged Tree Board and used his positive experiences as a model for other municipal foresters. His impact will endure, and his work will continue to provide multiple benefits to the community for decades.

Project Partnership

People gathered around the Westlawn Woods sign.

Award winner: Phoenix from the Ashes

The collaborative Phoenix from the Ashes project is recognized for an extraordinary partnership between nonprofit organizations, private businesses, city departments, and others to help repurpose Madison’s felled ash trees, minimize the sense of loss brought about by the removal of these trees, and to create beauty and benefit out of that loss. The project involved workforce development, art and culture, and urban wood utilization, and demonstrated ways our urban canopy can be used as a resource – reclaiming the ash trees decimated by the emerald ash borer and transforming them into functional and decorative art for the public to enjoy and provide job and skills training for underrepresented youth in the community.

Innovations in Urban Forestry

People posing with emerald ash borer treatment tape.

Award winner: Employer Sponsors of the Wisconsin Arborist Apprenticeship Advisory Committee

The Employer Sponsors of the Wisconsin Arborist Apprenticeship Advisory Committee — Jon Welch, Crawford Tree and Landscape; Ben Reince, Wachtel Tree Science; Randy Krouse, City of Milwaukee; and August Hoppe, Hoppe Tree Service — receive this year’s Innovation Award to recognize their achievement developing the nation’s first arborist apprenticeship. Each of these individuals has been critical to the success of the apprenticeship program; they realized the importance of apprenticeship as a workforce development strategy to how solve the challenges of recruitment, training and retainment in our industry and serves as a national model for the future of arboriculture.

Distinguished Service

A group of people standing around a newly planted tree.

Award winner: David Sivyer

This year’s honoree, David Sivyer, has been a leader in urban forestry in Wisconsin in several capacities for more than a decade. During his 13-year career as the Forestry Service Manager for the City of Milwaukee, David provided strategic direction and leadership in urban forestry and landscape management, including an effective response to EAB saving almost 30,000 trees and a comprehensive urban wood utilization program finding the highest possible uses of local urban wood within the city. David also served the WI Urban Forestry Council as Chair and Vice Chair, bringing thoughtful leadership, dedication, and a strong commitment to urban forestry in the state. His long-term commitment of service to Wisconsin’s urban forests will have a long-lasting positive effect on our state for years to come.


Three images: a group of people holding Tree City flags, a view of downtown Menasha, and the Menasha logo.

Award winner: Don Merkes

We are delighted to present our new Leadership Award to Don Merkes, mayor of Menasha and emeritus member of the WI Urban Forestry Council. Don’s vision and leadership have catapulted Menasha’s urban forestry program to the next level. The partnerships he formed launched several new programs within the city to enhance the beauty and benefits of the urban forest. Don is creating a legacy that future generations of residents will enjoy.

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. The five categories of awards are:

  1. Lifetime Achievement award recognizes outstanding contributions to urban forestry in Wisconsin demonstrated throughout a lifetime career.
  2. Distinguished Service award recognizes an individual for their outstanding contributions to urban forestry in Wisconsin.
  3. Project Partnership award recognizes outstanding projects that utilize partnerships as a means of providing services or benefits to the urban forest.
  4. Leadership award 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.
  5. Innovations in Urban Forestry award 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.

Nomination process

Nominations must be submitted by Oct. 31 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).

Nominations should be sent to the Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council, PO Box 7921, Madison WI 53707 or can be emailed to Sara Minkoff. For additional information, please contact a Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council member or regional urban forestry coordinator.