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Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council Annual Awards

2021 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: John Neumann

We are pleased to present this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award to John Neumann for his leadership and dedication to promoting and improving urban forestry, especially within his city of Beaver Dam where he is the Parks and Forestry Supervisor. For the past 27 years, John has been working to increase and diversify Beaver Dam’s tree canopy. John understands you can accomplish a lot more when leveraging partnerships. His connections with local businesses support Beaver Dam’s forestry program not only financially, but with volunteers as well. His knowledge, experience and humble nature has made him the go-to tree expert across Dodge County. His efforts have included outreach and education, creating a city tree nursery, working on Arbor Day celebrations, and establishing a partnership with the local Walmart and Rotary Club to provide funding and volunteers for tree planting events. John always has the interest of trees in mind. His impact will endure, and his work will continue to provide multiple benefits to the residents of Beaver Dam for decades.

Project Partnership

People gathered around the Westlawn Woods sign.

Award winner: Restoration of Our Trees Sheboygan (ROOTS)

It was great excitement that we announce this year’s winner of the Partnership Award. Restoration of our Trees Sheboygan, also known as ROOTS, is a collaborative effort between the Sheboygan Rotary Club and Lakeshore Natural Resource Partnership created to address the threat of emerald ash borer to Sheboygan County's rich forestry resources. The group has created effective partnerships with municipalities, businesses, nonprofit organizations and individuals to enhance the area’s urban canopy. This year, ROOTS formed a new grant program for local governments in Sheboygan County to help them manage ash trees that goes beyond putting new trees in the ground and focuses on planning and public awareness. This project has demonstrated how working together brings enormous advantages for both the urban forest and the people living among it.

Innovations in Urban Forestry

People posing with emerald ash borer treatment tape.

Award winner: DeForest Urban Lumber in Park Buildings

The Village of DeForest receives this year’s Innovation Award in recognition of their achievement developing an innovative and effective process for utilizing local urban ash trees that were being removed due to an EAB infestation in the construction of a municipal park building. As park staff faced both the removal of some ash trees and the reconstruction in Fireman’s Park, DeForest’s largest community park, they decided to reuse what they could from these stately trees.

The urban lumber salvaged from the trees has been used in three unique ways, including interior and exterior trim for the buildings and park picnic tables, enhancing the park’s buildings and recreational areas and demonstrating their commitment to keep planting and caring for trees so the community can continue to have an urban canopy in the future.

This project also serves as an example to other communities on how they can use their local wood resources to the benefits of their communities. This is wood that would typically have been turned into firewood, mulch, or sent to the landfill. DeForest found a way to use these local fallen trees for their highest purpose. With a willingness to be creative, DeForest has shown that local urban wood use is not only possible, but affordable and adds tremendous value to their urban forestry program.

Distinguished Service

A group of people standing around a newly planted tree.

Award winner: Cindy Kohles

This year’s honoree, Cindy Kohles, has been an exceptional leader in Wisconsin’s urban forestry community and has served with distinction as the Village of Gays Mills volunteer forester for many years. Through her hard work, perseverance and the successful acquisition of multiple DNR urban forestry grants, the village’s tree program has grown under Cindy’s energetic leadership. Despite several major floods and wind events, Gays Mills’ forestry program has excelled. Cindy’s dedication and energy are exemplified in all her accomplishments. Through her efforts, the relatively small community of Gays Mills has established an enviable urban forestry program, become a leader in small community tree care. Her efforts have resulted in the village becoming a leader in small community tree care and regional urban forestry training in southwestern Wisconsin. The Village was recently recognized as the smallest community in the country to achieve the designation of a Tree City USA Growth Award from the Arbor Day Foundation, a true testament to Cindy’s commitment and passion for their urban forest.


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

Award winner: Dennis Fermenich

We are delighted to present this year’s Leadership Award to Dennis Fermenich, City Forester for the City of Greenfield. Dennis’ vision and leadership have catapulted Greenfield’s urban forestry program to the next level. Dennis has played an indispensable role in the City’s positive transformation from “Concrete City” to “Tree City”, even gaining the designation as “Bee City” recently. His wealth of knowledge, collaborative mindset, and generosity in sharing his expertise, passion, and dedication, have combined to have a positive impact on the development of comprehensive community urban forest enjoyed by all city residents. Dennis 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. Project Partnership award recognizes outstanding projects that utilize partnerships as a means of providing services or benefits to the urban forest.
  3. 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, individual, or citizen who has gone above and beyond in their contributions to or their support of urban forestry. Wisconsin State Legislators who have made outstanding contributions to urban forestry will also be considered after they have completed their terms of office.
  4. 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.
  5. Next Gen award 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.

Nomination process

Nominations must be submitted by Oct. 31, 2021 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 Sara Minkoff. For additional information, please contact a Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council member or regional urban forestry coordinator.