Congratulations to the 2017 Trees Forever Volunteer Award Winners!



Outstanding Volunteer Awards

Paul Millice - Iowa City
Paul is the Chair of the Iowa Woodland Owners Association, one of Trees Forever’s partners in the Coalition for Iowa’s Woodlands and Trees. Paul has been a great volunteer as a Trees Forever TreeKeeper and Fruit TreeKeeper, and helps with events such as the Backyard Forest Conference. 

Kathy Hendrie - Pocahontas, Iowa
Kathy has been a leader with Pocahontas Hometown Pride for many years. She helped get Pocahontas onboard with the Community Visioning program, and has written grant proposals, organized volunteers at tree plantings, and watered and cared for the trees that have been planted. 

Darryl & Jane Cannon - Westgate, Iowa
Darryl and Jane have been outstanding volunteers on many projects in Fayette County. They led a Branching Out planting of 128 trees at West Central School in Maynard, and also helped add 90 trees to the entrance of Westgate through the Iowa’s Living Roadways Projects program. 

Partner Awards  

Ron Lenth – Bremer County Extension
Ron’s involvement ranges from being a Community Visioning leader in Tripoli to leading tree plantings in Waverly to developing roadside planting plans. He is an enthusiastic supporter of projects for young people, and helps educate the public on topics ranging from pollinators to watershed planning. 

Sons & Daughters of Imogene, represented by Rebecca Castle
This community group supports their small town of 60 people. After participating in Trails Visioning, the group took several ideas proposed for their portion of the Wabash Trace and made them a reality, including a landscaped community sign lighted with solar power, and a shower/restroom facility made from a former grain bin. 


City of Cresco
The City of Cresco has partnered with Trees Forever for 25 years, and been involved in both Branching Out, supported by Alliant Energy, and Black Hills Energy’s Power of Trees. Cresco’s tree program is led by the Public Works Department and volunteers on the tree committee. 

Media Partner Awards

Margo Hansen - Clinton, IA 
Margo, the director of the Bickelhaupt Arboretum, has shown great leadership with Clinton Trees Forever for over 25 years. She has been a major organizer of the “Hort in the Heartland” educational event and a regular contributor of written articles and radio interviews promoting the benefits of trees. 


Rick Patrie
As news editor of the Hardin County Index, Rick covers local Trees Forever activities. In 2015 he was especially helpful in promoting the Stewards of the Beautiful Land class in Hardin County, and did a follow-up on the rain garden that was planted at the Calkins Nature Center. 


Advocate Awards 

Mary Lou Lael – Ashland, Illinois
Through the Illinois Buffer Partnership and Pollinator Habitat Conservation programs, Mary Lou created a wetland on her property. In 2016 she showcased her wetland with a field day. This year she joined Trees Forever at the Illinois State Capitol and spoke with lawmakers about the importance of trees. 


Mike Cimprich – Marion, Iowa
Mike is not only the City of Marion’s Arborist, but a graduate of the TreeKeeper and Fruit TreeKeeper programs which he helps teach. He leads tree-planting efforts in Marion, and works with Trees Forever on events such as the United Way Day of Caring and Earth Week Blitz. 


Environmental Steward Awards 

Hoddy Gates – Central City, Iowa
Hoddy has planted over 85,000 trees on his 300 acres of rolling land in Linn County.  He has encouraged his children, his neighbors, and everyone who will listen to plant trees. Hoddy has moved to permanently protect the land with conservation easements and through a reserved life estate. 


Ralph and Karen Voss – Carlyle, Illinois
Ralph and Karen Voss own and operate Voss Pecans, the only established commercial pecan farm in Illinois. After a windstorm destroyed 250 pecan trees in 2006, they received an Illinois Buffer Partnership grant to help replant. In 2016 they held a field day to spread their message of land stewardship. 


Van Bitner - Mason City, Illinois 
Van has installed two buffer projects and a pollinator project on his farm in Mason County. He is an excellent steward of the land, working with many partners to promote conservation. He invites Trees Forever staff to speak at various events and is a dedicated advocate at both the state and federal levels. 


Youth Volunteer Group Award

Mitchell County Conservation Board & St. Ansgar Schools (Iowa), represented by Andy Taets 
Students and teachers from St. Ansgar Schools teamed up with Mitchell County Conservation and Trees Forever to plant 2000 prairie plants along the Cedar River at Halvorson Park. Volunteers from third grade to high school worked together to help prevent soil erosion and improve water quality. The project was supported by a Working Watersheds: Buffers & Beyond grant.

Youth Volunteer Award


Julia Chamberland – Grinnell, Iowa
Julia contacted Trees Forever to do a tree planting at her high school in Grinnell. She organized a group of students to write a Branching Out grant for “Operation Lorax,” and worked with school staff and Trees Forever to plan the project. Over forty students showed up on an in-service day with no school to plant 16 trees!


President’s Awards


Mark Masteller 
Mark is the chief landscape architect of the Iowa Department of Transportation, and has been an important partner to Trees Forever. Mark is responsible for helping us create Community Visioning and the Iowa’s Living Roadways program in partnership with Iowa State University. For more than 20 years Mark has provided solid guidance and direction. 


Janis McFarland
Janis is on the USA Executive Team for Syngenta. Janis has been a great friend and leader in Trees Forever’s water quality initiatives over the years. She has also served on the Board of Directors since 2007 and is currently one of our Foundation Trustees.  She comes to many meetings in-person, making the trip from North Carolina where she lives.