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Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council

Past Awards

Past recipients of the urban forestry awards given in recognition of outstanding efforts by individuals, organizations and communities that further urban forestry in Wisconsin.

See this year's award recipients.


Distinguished Service Award – David Sivyer
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.

Project Partnership Award – Phoenix from the Ashes
The collaborative Phoenix from the Ashes project was 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 a resource 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 Award – 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.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Chuck Nass
Chuck Nass was recognized 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.

Leadership Award – Don Merkes
We were 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.


Distinguished Service Award – Sally Prideaux
Sally Prideaux has been the continuous face of Amherst’s Community Forestry Program for over 20 years. For this long-term commitment of service to her hometown community and residents in the area, she was recognized for multiple contributions that will have a long-lasting positive effect on the village for years to come.

Project Partnership Award – Rotary International District 6270
Rotary International District 6270 (Southeastern Wisconsin) is recognized for an extraordinary partnership between various local clubs, municipalities, other service organizations, and citizens to plant over 6,600 trees through more than 3,000 service hours with over $144,000 invested in community trees. This was in response to a challenge from Rotary International in 2017-2018 to plant one tree for every member of their club; this district went above and beyond their original goal to plant 2,900 trees. The benefits these trees provide will enrich the lives of all people in the communities that participated for a long time.

Innovations in Urban Forestry – Golden Sands Resource Conservation and Development Council, Inc.
Golden Sands Resource Conservation and Development Council, Inc. receives this award to recognize their over 20 years of creatively working with WDNR, cities, villages and towns along with private businesses, to prepare citizens and municipalities to care for their urban forest resources. They are currently working with 18 communities ranging in size from 200 to close to 40,000 citizens and have used a variety of strategies to communicate messages covering a wide range of tree care topics.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Ted Pyrek (deceased)
Ted Pyrek is recognized posthumously for his over 30-year leadership and dedication promoting and improving urban forestry. He is recognized for outstanding contributions to urban forestry demonstrated throughout his lifetime. His impact will endure, and his work will continue to provide multiple benefits to the community for decades.


Lifetime Achievement – Cindy Casey
Cindy Casey receives this award to honor her leadership and dedication promoting and improving urban forestry which has had a lasting impact in Wisconsin. She was recognized for outstanding contributions to urban forestry demonstrated throughout a lifetime career. Cindy served the Urban Forestry team of Wisconsin DNR for almost 30 years. In those decades, she impacted dozens of communities through tireless advocacy, building personal relationships and responding to the unique needs of each situation. In addition to her positive effects on communities in West Central Wisconsin, her work with Wisconsin's Community Tree Management Institute, K-12 Forestry Education Programming in Wisconsin and Wisconsin Urban Wood has had a positive impact across our entire state and even in other parts of the country.

Project Partnership – Green Bay Area Arbor Day Seedling Distribution Project
The Green Bay Area Arbor Day Seedling Distribution Project was celebrated for 50 years of a successful partnership between Green Bay Public Schools, the City of Green Bay and the Village of Allouez to distribute seedlings to the children of Green Bay. The program was instituted to involve young people in an environmental experience by giving a tree to each child and teaching them how to care for their tree. Over the past five decades, 100,000 trees representing 27 species have been planted by area school children. The benefits these Arbor Day trees provide help enrich the lives of all people in the community and help keep the green in Green Bay. Many of these trees thrive today and are often mentioned as a source of pride. This project demonstrates the value of partnerships between students, city government and community members working together to improve the community tree canopy while providing educational and civic engagement opportunities for school children.

Innovations in Urban Forestry – Hudson Tree Treks Project
The Hudson Tree Treks Project started as way to enhance a Hudson elementary school project involving a student-run arboretum. This initial installation of a self-guided tree identification trail sparked interest for additional treks and brought in new partners. It has grown to include three separate Tree Trek trails involving multiple teachers and school children, citizens, city government, Chamber of Commerce, State Tourism Bureau, local Tree Board and city business owners. This increased attention to the city's trees has brought new awareness and support for the local goal of diversifying the tree canopy on public and private property and additional venues for sharing information about tree care and homeowner options.

Innovations in Urban Forestry – Kenosha County Parks and Recreation Department's Emerald Ash Borer Mechanized Tree Removal and Utilization Project
The removal costs to deal with the tens of thousands of local trees affected by emerald ash borer add up quickly – often to the tune of several million dollars. Through careful planning, municipal and industry professionals can find more affordable solutions beneficial to the forests, the bottom line and the local economy. To reduce costs, Kenosha County successfully contracted with a company to remove affected trees in public parks and golf courses for a low cost per tree; this was possible because forest products from the Kenosha project were recovered and marketed to several in state forest products firms. This innovative approach can serve as a model for other communities with similar situations.


Distinguished Service – Sean Gere, Arborist
Sean Gere is recognized for contributions to urban forest health, safety of arborists and community education and awareness. Sean is a 6-time state champion climber, ISA certified arborist, arboriculture researcher/educator and owner of Gere Tree Care in Madison. He has been involved in research and teaching on topics related to tree care, urban ecosystems and safety for members of the tree care industry, and providing programming for community members to support his commitment to helping people and the environment exist together in mutually beneficial ways.

Project Partnership – Popple Trail Invasive Species Removal Project, Reedsburg
Popple Trail Invasive Species Removal Project, Reedsburg receives this award for demonstrating the value of partnerships between local businesses, service and recreational clubs, students, city government, nonprofit organizations and other community members working together to improve an urban corridor for increased recreational and educational opportunities. The impact of this project will benefit future generations and brought together community groups, building a deep sense of camaraderie and community among all participants and creating a place of beauty.

Innovation in Urban Forestry – WholeTrees Architecture and Structures
WholeTrees Architecture and Structures receives this award for their innovative use of whole urban local trees in the construction of Festival Foods at the Galaxie in Madison. WholeTrees is a Madison-based architectural design and building products company that brings low-value forest byproducts into high-value building market. They repurpose small-diameter round timbers into durable building materials with the distinctive visual character of whole trees. By making forest health more profitable, WholeTrees seeks to help make buildings stronger and healthy forests more abundant.

Lifetime Achievement – Dick Rideout, WI DNR Urban Forestry Partnerships and Policy Specialist (retired)
Dick Rideout receives this award for his career achievements promoting and improving urban forestry in Wisconsin, the Midwest and across the country. Dick worked as a University of Minnesota–Extension arboriculture specialist and as forestry technical services coordinator for the City of Milwaukee before being hired as Wisconsin's first urban forestry coordinator in 1990, retiring from this position in 2015. His involvement in professional organizations and collaborations with municipal, utility, nonprofit and commercial arborists helped to create support for urban forestry in Wisconsin and throughout the nation. His legacy includes such programs as the Urban Forestry Grants Program, Champion Tree Program and statewide engagement in the Tree City, Tree Line and Tree Campus Award programs and Arbor Day observances and activities.


Distinguished Service – Phil Pellitterri
Phil Pellitterri is recognized for his extensive career contributions to the field of urban forest health through his work as the UW-Extension entomologist for 35 years. Phil freely and eagerly shared his knowledge by contributing to numerous publications, speaking at conferences, participating in workshops and on radio broadcasts and through many other venues educating students, professionals and the general public about insect problems threatening Wisconsin's urban forests.

Lifetime Achievement – Raymond P. Guries (retired) and Eugene B. Smalley (deceased)
Raymond P. Guries and Eugene B. Smalley are recognized for their more than 30 year commitment to develop elm cultivars that are resistant to Dutch Elm Disease. Through their efforts, several cultivars were developed and elements of their research and testing program have been successfully integrated into current protocols that accelerate the selection of plant material.

Project Partnership – Ozaukee County Fish Passage Program, Ulao Creek Restoration and Tree Planting Project
The Ulao Creek Restoration and Tree Planting Project is being recognized for a large-scale fish and wildlife habitat restoration project in the town and village of Grafton that is restoring multiple stream reaches through channel re-meandering, floodplain reconnection, wetland creation or enhancement, invasive plant removal, native plant restoration and installation of fish and wildlife habitat features. A large component of the work has been conducted by volunteer partner organizations, most notably with involvement in tree planting and educational awareness.

Innovations in Urban Forestry – Wisconsin Urban Wood Network
The Wisconsin Urban Wood Network is a vibrant, growing and diverse group of urban wood professionals, businesses and nonprofit organizations that recycle urban trees back into the social and economic lives of the community. This wood is recycled into fine furniture, flooring, art and architecture. Network members include arborists, sawyers, kiln operators, woodworkers and craftspersons that care about the environment, their clients and their employees and love seeing great wood go to happy customers. Not only is this innovative group aiding in the development of marketing urban wood, it is addressing an environmental need and instilling investment in the creation of private businesses. This network has already grown across the state and is garnering attention on the national stage.


Distinguished Service – Laura Wyatt
Recognizes her pioneering efforts advocating for and shaping partnerships that advance Wisconsin urban forestry in alignment with their civic and environmental goals. Ms. Wyatt has shared these successes with many audiences and presented them as national models, including First Downs for Trees/Green Bay Packers, Dane County Bar Association and City of Fitchburg Tree Planting Initiative and Root, Root for the Brewers/Milwaukee Brewers.

Project Partnership – "Logs to Lumber" Program
Recognizes the City of West Bend and Habitat for Humanity of Washington and Dodge Counties for their creative responses to emerald ash borer and win-win outcomes. Using a new portable saw mill, Habitat for Humanity generates lumber from city trees removed as part of the city’s EAB response plan and uses the lumber in the construction of homes and is sold at their facilities. The city uses the revenue from log sales to fund tree replacement in the city. Both partners have used this as an educational tool and a model for communities dealing with the effects of EAB.

Innovations in Urban Forestry – American Transmission Company (ATC) Community Planting Program
Recognizes ATC’s commitment to safe and beautiful urban forests in their service areas by supplying funding to communities to increase canopy cover in their respective communities. The goal is to help beautify communities in the ATC service area in a manner that is consistent with their safety and maintenance standards.

Innovations in Urban Forestry – Urban Wood Specifications for Building Design Projects by Gerard Capell and Tom Kubala
Mr. Capell is recognized for writing urban wood specifications that would introduce a "new" wood product into the construction marketplace. Mr. Kubala is recognized for incorporating urban wood into a 2014 commercial building project to showcase the entire urban tree-to-building process. The pair has been instrumental in preparing the traditional market for the influx of urban wood and helping to demonstrate the viability and desirability of this building material.

Lifetime Achievement – Dr. Edward Hasselkus
Recognizes his immense contributions to the field of urban forestry and horticulture. His long tenure as UW-Madison Horticulture and Landscape Design Professor and UW-Madison Arboretum Curator of Longenecker Gardens has made him an institution in Wisconsin. Throughout his career and into his retirement, Dr. Hasselkus has mentored countless students and professionals and continues to be a resource for the various green industries in Wisconsin.


Distinguished Service – Laura DeGolier
Recognizes volunteer work and leadership in maintaining Fond du Lac’s Greenway Arboretum, including its hundreds of trees, recruiting and coordinating volunteers and serving as a tireless advocate for natural resources.

Project Partnership – Sparta High School Earth Club
(partnering with Century Foods International of Sparta, the City of Sparta, Polar Bears International and Milwaukee County Zoo). Recognizes a long term partnership including award winning programs "Trees for You and Me" and "Tree Planting for Climate Change" which have resulted in a healthier and more diverse urban forest for the City of Sparta.

Project Partnership – 30 for 30 Partnership Project: City of Menasha and Canadian National Railroad
Recognizes a partnership with Canadian National Railroad celebrating 30 years as a Tree City USA, with numerous volunteer groups teaming-up to improve the long term health and diversity of the urban forest by planting 30 trees in each aldermanic district.

Innovations in Urban Forestry – Bob Wesp, Dwayne Sperber and City of Milwaukee
Recognizes the development of a working model which processes and markets Milwaukee’s urban wood.

Innovations in Urban Forestry – Mequon Nature Preserve and City of Mequon
Recognizes a reforestation program which involved efforts to plant thousands of trees, preform invasive species removal, establish new walking trails and develop an environmental science program.

Lifetime Achievement – Todd Ernster
Recognizes 25 years of service to the City of Stevens Point, most recently as City Forester.


Distinguished Service – David Scharfenberger
Recognizes 20 years of service as volunteer City of Hartford Forester conducting Arbor Day activities and performing many services to ensure a diverse, healthy and aesthetically pleasing urban forest.

Elected Official Distinguished Service – Town of Menasha Supervisor Michael Dillon
Recognizes leadership in promoting the benefits of the urban forest and sustainable urban forest development, while facilitating Arbor Day programs and implementing tree planting projects.

Project Partnership – University of Wisconsin-Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Programs in Brown, Outagamie and Winnebago Counties
Recognizes partnership to provide multi-county arboriculture workshops benefitting Wisconsin’s urban and community forests.

Innovations in Urban Forestry – Jonas Zahn and the Northwoods Casket Company
Recognizes the creation of a unique tree planting and reforestation project tied to a business which utilizes wood.

Innovations in Urban Forestry – Bock Community Forest Field Day, City of Middleton
Recognizes the development of a community event which showcases the community forest demonstrating arboriculture skills, horse logging and wood utilization in a responsible, environmentally sustainable way.


Lifetime Achievement – Harry Libby
For sustained leadership as Middleton’s city forester for 19 years, guiding development of a comprehensive, proactive municipal urban forestry program resulting in increased tree canopy.

Distinguished Service – Dr. R. Chris Williamson
For leadership and service to the urban forestry community through entomology research, education and outreach at UW–Madison, emphasizing invasive insects including emerald ash borer.

Elected Official Distinguished Service – Arthur Bushue
For leadership and support guiding the development of Village of Clinton’s comprehensive urban forestry program, a model for small Wisconsin communities.

Project Partnership – Oconomowoc Junior Women’s Club and the City of Oconomowoc Parks & Forestry Department
Recognizing a sustained tree-planting partnership in Oconomowoc that celebrates the birth of babies born to club members. More than 100 park trees have been planted since 1982.

Innovations in Urban Forestry – Green Bay Packers’ First Downs for Trees
Honoring First Downs for Trees, an innovative approach to offsetting carbon produced during away-game travel by planting trees in Brown County communities for each first down made during the regular season.


Lifetime Achievement – David Liska
In recognition of sustained leadership in arboriculture by setting a standard for community forestry while serving as Waukesha City Forester for 30 years and by serving in numerous state-wide leadership roles to further continued professional development and education of students.

Distinguished Service – Mike Wendt
In recognition of leadership in arboriculture education and training at Milwaukee Area Technical College which not only provides exceptional "hands-on" experience for students but numerous benefits for area communities, county lands and non-profits.

Elected Official Distinguished Service – Alder Marsha Rummel
In recognition of leadership in the protection and preservation of Madison's urban forest and the adoption of construction specifications to protect Madison's street trees.

Project Partnership – Taking Root: Oshkosh Area Community Foundation and City of Oshkosh-Forestry, Ranger Services
Recognizes leadership in development of Oshkosh Taking Root Fund which increases community beautification through tree planting raising more than $350,000 and planting 1000 trees in 2010 and with plans to plant 1000 trees in 2011.

Project Partnership – Ash Tree Removal and Replanting: City of Waukesha Forestry and We Energies
Recognizes leadership in development of an ash removal/tree replacement project addressing EAB and utility pruning issues.

Innovations in Urban Forestry – Strategic Forestry Plan, Forest County Potawatomi Tribe
Recognizes the innovative and comprehensive approach to managing the Tribe's community forest with the creation of a Strategic Forestry Plan.

Innovations in Urban Forestry – Mechanized Logging of Urban Trees: Don Peterson, Sustainable Resources Institute; City of Oak Creek; Terry Mace, DNR; and Anna Healy, DATCP
Recognizes the innovative demonstration of mechanized harvesting and processing of urban trees.


Distinguished Service – Tom Meier
In recognition of sustained leadership in establishing and working with the Town of Mosinee oak wilt awareness, management and control programs.

Elected Official Distinguished Service – Representative Fred Clark, 42nd Assembly District and Senator Judy Robson, 15th Senate District
In recognition of leadership in the protection of Wisconsin's urban forests and the reinstatement of state Urban Forestry Grants to communities.

Project Partnership – Dane County EAB Readiness Plan: Dane County Land & Water Resources Department; Dane County Tree Board; and Dane County Public Works Solid Waste Division
Recognizes the leadership of Dane County in gathering together urban forestry partners and stakeholders to develop the Dane County Emerald Ash Borer & Wood Utilization Strategic Management Plan.

Innovations in Urban Forestry – Hyperspectral Imagery and EAB Planning
City of Mequon, City of Milwaukee and We Energies
Recognizes the innovated use of hyperspectral imagery to develop a comprehensive ash tree canopy map for use in EAB readiness planning through partnership of two communities and a utility.


Lifetime Achievement – Cliff Englert
In recognition of career achievements that “planted the seed” for a Janesville urban forestry legacy through the creation, development and nurturing of the Janesville Shade Tree Advisory Committee which will continue to guide and sustain Janesville’s community forestry program

Distinguished Service – LaVerne Peterson
In recognition of sustained leadership in working with members of the Village of Amherst community to establish and maintain a community forestry program that preserves and advances forestry throughout the community.

Project Partnership – Short Elliott Hendrickson, Inc and City of Superior – Superior Tree Board
Recognizes the merged efforts of a municipality, community volunteers and a private contractor to increase tree canopy while redesigning and reconstructing a major transportation corridor.

Innovations in Urban Forestry – Urban Brownfield Phytoremediation
City of Menasha, Winnebago County, OMNNI Associates, Environmental Forestry Consultants, LLC
Recognizes the innovated use of trees to assist in the cleanup of contaminated soil and groundwater at a contaminated brownfield property in the City of Menasha.


Distinguished Service – Harley McMillen
In recognition of leadership exhibited through the organization of Trees for Viola tree planting project and a community forestry program in response to devastating tornadoes of 2005. For more information on this effort view the summer newsletter issue, page 3, at to the Village of Viola for becoming a Tree City USA!

Elected Official Distinguished Service – Representative Mary Williams, 87th State Assembly District
In recognition of leadership in the passage of 2007 Wisconsin Act 13 that allows the DNR to expedite urban forestry grants following catastrophic storm damage in urban areas for which the governor has declared a state of emergency.

Project Partnership – Town of Greenville and We Energies
Recognizes how one community merged the efforts of municipal volunteers and power company officials to landscape a power substation at the intersection of two busy highways. The tangible benefits include the conversion of a necessary eyesore into an environmental and aesthetic showcase.

Innovations in Urban Forestry – Village of Clinton Volunteer Foresters
Recognizes and celebrates the ingenuity and spirit of the village of Clinton volunteer foresters in establishing and managing a community forestry program that preserves and advances forestry throughout the community with the active participation of residents of all ages.

Honorable mentions were awarded to the Horticulture Center at Boerner Botanic Garden, Green Man Wood Services, Village of Little Chute, City of Oconto and Village of Pound.