Trees Forever Staff

To reach a helpful staff member, dial 1-800-369-1269 plus the individual extension below


  Leslie Berckes
Program Development & Innovation Director
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Leslie has a diverse background in environmental and conservation issues. She has worked on programs dedicated to reducing solid waste, improving energy efficiency, and promoting sustainable building practices. In her role at Trees Forever, Leslie serves as a Field Coordinator for the central Iowa region working with volunteers and organizations throughout the area. She also manages the Iowa’s Living Roadways Projects program and coordinates the Des Moines TreeKeepers program. Leslie earned an M.A. in Public Policy, with an emphasis on environmental policy, and a B.A. in Marketing from the University of Northern Iowa. When not busy at work, Leslie and her husband update and restore their 1935 Des Moines home and spend time their two cats, Rachel Carson and Aldo Leopold.
Contact Leslie with any questions regarding funding for Iowa roadside plantings, to become a Des Moines TreeKeeper, or to learn more about how you or your community can get involved with Trees Forever in central Iowa.
  Margaret Birmingham
Finance and Operations Manager
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Margaret is the Finance and Operations Manager at Trees Forever.  One of her favorite aspects of the job is writing the grant checks that Trees Forever awards each year to communities and landowners across Iowa and Illinois - helping them plant more trees, beautify roadsides and public areas with native plants and shrubs, and protect and preserve our water and land resources.   Margaret is always looking for ways for us to save money and better manage our limited resources.  The Trees Forever staff is very fond of Margaret, as she also processes our payroll and expense checks!  Margaret lives in Cedar Rapids with her son.

Contact Margaret with accounts payable or accounts receivable questions.
  Meredith Borchardt
Field Coordinator, North-Central and Northeast Iowa
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In her role as Field Coordinator, Meredith works with communities and volunteers throughout north-central and northeast Iowa on many different Trees Forever programs.  She also serves as Program Manager for several of our community forestry programs. Meredith and her husband and two children live outside of Clarksville. She graduated from Luther College with a double major of Biology and Religion. She later earned an M.S. degree from Iowa State University, doing a research project on the effects of mowing and fertilization on diversity in a new prairie reconstruction.
Contact Meredith with questions regarding funding for community forestry projects or to learn more about  how you or your community can get involved with Trees Forever in north-central of northeastern Iowa.
  Nancy Duncan
Director of Finance and Operations
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Nancy brings many years of experience in the non-profit community to Trees Forever.  She has a B.A. from St. Ambrose University in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance. As Director of Finance and Operations, Nancy makes sure Trees Forever remains fiscally responsible and that employee policies are up-to-date.  Nancy loves the outdoors and enjoys visiting and camping in National Parks across the county.  She also enjoys singing (music in general), making crafts and cooking.  Nancy lives in Cedar Rapids with her husband.
Contact Nancy if you would like to learn more about Trees Forever’s financial health or policies.
  Tracy Feldmann
Database Coordinator
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Tracy has an A.A. degree in Office Administration from Kirkwood Community College.  After spending five years with Trees Forever working with the Iowa's Living Roadways programs, she now focuses on maintaining the Trees Forever website and database system.  Tracy enjoys sewing, crochet, and re-purposing old items into new ones.  She lives near a walnut forest preserve with her family and strives to raise her children to be responsible environmental stewards.

Contact Tracy with any questions about the Trees Forever database.
  Debbie Fluegel
Field Coordinator, Illinois
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Debbie has a B.S. in Marine Biology from the University of Maine. She manages Trees Forever’s Illinois Buffer Partnership and it Pollinator Habitat Conservation programs for both Iowa and Illinois. Debbie’s favorite part of her job? “Meeting new people and visiting a lot of unique areas in Illinois that most people don’t have the opportunity to visit.”  Debbie is a member of the Environmental Education Association of Illinois, the Illinois Forestry Association, the Soil & Water Conservation Society and the Association for Temperate Agroforestry.
Contact Debbie with questions regarding Trees Forever’s Illinois water quality or pollinator habitat conservation projects or to learn how you or your community can get involved with Trees Forever in Illinois.
  Barb Grabner-Kerns
Field Coordinator, Illinois
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Barb has a bachelor’s degree in Zoology and coordinates Illinois Treekeepers activities and Pollinator Habitat Conservation projects. Barb's favorite aspect of her job is working with grassroots volunteers and seeing them make a difference in their communities and on their farms. "Seeing their enthusiasm and passion about projects is so exciting--and contagious!"  Barb's goal is to make both Iowa and Illinois leaders in the field of agroforestry, and she dreams about growing aronia berries someday herself.
Contact Barb with questions regarding Trees Forever’s Illinois TreeKeepers or pollinator habitat conservation projects or to learn how you or your community can get involved with Trees Forever in Illinois.

  Jeff Jensen
Field Coordinator, Northwest Iowa
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Jeff is Program Manager for Trees Forever’s Working Watersheds: Buffers and Beyond program in Iowa, and is a Field Coordinator for Northwest Iowa. He has a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies and has worked in the field of sustainable agriculture for several years.  Jeff is also a little nutty, being active with the Iowa Nut Growers Association, Minnesota Hazelnut Foundation, and Upper Midwest Hazelnut Development Initiative (UMHDI).  He grows and markets hazelnuts from the family farm in Northern Kossuth County. 
Contact Jeff with questions regarding Trees Forever’s Iowa water quality or agroforestry projects or to learn how you or your community can get involved with Trees Forever in northwest Iowa.
  Patty Reisinger
Field Coordinator and Membership Steward
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Patty has been with Trees Forever since 1991, coordinating tree planting events and helping train volunteers with tree selection, all aspects of planting and care, reviewing site plans and facilitating local efforts. Passionate about helping communities achieve their goals, Patty is always excited to travel throughout Iowa  & Illinois to visit members and  see the results of the great projects they have achieved.  Patty has a B.S. in Horticulture from Iowa State University and is also an ISA Certified Arborist.
Contact Patty to learn how you can become a Trees Forever member or to learn more about how you can get involved with Trees Forever where you live.
  Shannon Ramsay
Founding President and CEO
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Shannon founded Trees Forever as a volunteer in 1989, and continues to lead Trees Forever with passion and dedication.  Recognized both nationally and locally for her leadership and accomplishments, Shannon was the 2011 recipient of the Frederick Law Olmsted Award from the National Arbor Day Foundation and a Women of Influence Award from the Corridor Business Journal.  She serves on numerous boards and task forces, including the national Forestry Research Advisory Council, and is a member of the Cedar Rapids Downtown Rotary.
Contact Shannon to learn how you or your business can support Trees Forever’s efforts Planting a Better Tomorrow.
  Brad Riphagen
Field Coordinator, Southwest and Western Iowa
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Brad has a B.A. in Biology and an M.S. in Land Resources with a focus on prairie restoration and soils.  He has been a Trees Forever Field Coordinator since 1995 and has worked in almost all of the program areas.  He also has a strong interest in reduction of stormwater run-off, especially in urban areas, through the use of infiltration practices such as rain gardens and bio-retention basins.   Brad is energized by the interaction with volunteers around the state and especially in southwest and western Iowa. 
Contact Brad to learn how you or your community can get involved with Trees Forever in western and southwestern Iowa.
  Deb Roman
Program Support Coordinator
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Deb is best known as the voice of Trees Forever, as she is most often the person answering telephone at our main office in Marion.  Deb supports all the necessary administrative processes for hundreds of grant applications, awards and reports. Deb grew up on a Linn County, Iowa, farm, and has an A.A. degree in Ag Science from Kirkwood Community College.  Deb has a special place in her heart for her dogs and the outdoors and she thrives on hard work and helping others.
Contact Deb with questions about Trees Forever grant programs or project reporting forms.
  Becky Smith
Development Coordinator
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Becky updates and maintains Trees Forever's member and partner database.  She also coordinates most of the many mailings throughout the year.  In addition, Becky manages registrations for all the educational events and meetings throughout the year.  Becky has an A.A. degree in Computer Applications from Marshalltown Community College.  She enjoys sharing her love of nature with her husband and daughter.
Contact Becky to register for a Trees Forever event or to add or correct your contact information.
  Emily Swihart
Field Coordinator/Design Specialist, East-Central Iowa
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Emily holds a bachelor’s degree in horticulture and a master’s degree in landscape architecture and she uses both to help communities plan, organize, obtain funding and implement landscape improvement projects.  Emily manages and provides design services for Trees Forever’s Iowa’s Living Roadways Trails Visioning program.  As an avid outdoorswoman, Emily enjoys exploring trails, biking, and gardening. She is also a passionate lifelong learner who loves to read and travel.
Contact Emily to learn how your trail group can apply to participate in the Iowa’s Living Roadways Trails Visioning program or to talk to her about how you or your community can get involved with Trees Forever in east-central Iowa.

Maxine Webb

Director of Development

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Maxine brings almost a decade of nonprofit experience to Trees Forever. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and is a proud AmeriCorps Alum. Passionate about improving communities through public service, Maxine actively participates in several civic organizations and sits on a board to connect & develop young professionals in the area. As Director of Development, Maxine leads revenue generation efforts by building upon existing partnerships and working with individuals who are passionate about the Trees Forever mission. 


Contact Maxine to learn more about how you can help Plant a Better Tomorrow through a charitable donation.


Jackie Wedeking

Communications and Marketing Manager

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Jackie works with Trees Forever staff members to promote events and write articles for the Trees Forever website, TreeNews and the Leaflet. She graduated from Wartburg College with a B.A. in Political Science and Communication Arts. With roots in journalism and photography, one of her favorite ways of enjoying nature is with a camera in hand. However, she will set down her camera long enough to go kayaking or to picnic with her family.


Contact Jackie with questions or story ideas for the Leaflet, TreeNews or our website.


Chelsey Yates
Roadways Coordinator
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As a lover of the outdoors, Chelsey is excited to bring her professional knowledge to an organization that is so deeply committed to the environment and our communities. She studied Horticulture at Kirkwood Community College, and during the past decade, she has held coordinator positions in various industries within the Cedar Rapids area. When not working, she can be found cooking for friends and family, attending classic car shows and hiking with her dog, Dexter.


Contact Chelsey with any questions regarding Trees Forever’s Iowa’s Living Roadways programs.



Independent Consultants who Support Trees Forever

    Bev Stevenson
Independent Consultant Support

Bev keeps Trees Forever's computers and system running smoothly by providing outstanding and timely IT support.  She is a long-time and valued member of the Trees Forever family.